Da hipocrisia do Bloco de Esquerda

Paulo Tunhas, “Lenine explica”:

Acerca da anulação da conferência de Jaime Nogueira Pinto na Faculdade de Ciências Sociais e Humanas da Universidade Nova de Lisboa e dos motivos dessa anulação, muita gente, da esquerda à direita, se pronunciou com as palavras certas. Há, no entanto, uns silêncios que convém interrogar. Que eu tenha reparado, ninguém do PC ou do Bloco de Esquerda julgou útil desta vez fazer ouvir a sua voz, o que em princípio devia espantar, tratando-se de gente particularmente vocal que aprecia sumamente dissertar sobre toda a espécie de direitos e que tem ideias bem definidas sobre a liberdade, ou sobre as “amplas liberdades”, como dantes o PC dizia.

(…).

Não custa muito encontrar uma explicação simples: porque concordam com a anulação da conferência. Demasiado simples? Francamente, não creio. A especialização nas chamadas “causas fracturantes”, que tornou o Bloco conhecido do bom povo português, tende a fazer esquecer algumas características ideológicas que identificam no essencial aquela tão moderna agremiação. É que, sob as vestes da modernidade, o que conta verdadeiramente são ainda as arcaicas concepções totalitárias que se encontram na sua origem. É isso que fornece uma unidade subjacente à multiplicidade das “causas”. Que isso permaneça imperceptível a uma grande parte das pessoas deve-se em grande parte a um efectivo talento para o marketing político que descobriu um muito conveniente nicho ecológico nos media. A maneira como esta ocultação da presença da origem no presente foi levada a cabo com sucesso é provavelmente um dos factos mais reveladores da facilidade do triunfo da impostura em política, uma impostura desde há um ano devidamente recompensada, para nossa grande desgraça, com a generosidade de António Costa.

(…).

É bom percebermos que estamos a lidar com gente para a qual não há, em domínio algum, qualquer espécie de neutralidade, inclusive académica. O silêncio em relação ao caso de Jaime Nogueira Pinto exibe-o perfeitamente e de forma inadulterada. O outro de que se discorda não é susceptível de merecer a distância que nos permita ouvi-lo. Insultá-lo, identificá-lo como inimigo, é mais fácil. No caso de Nogueira Pinto, é “fascista”. Noutros tempos, é bom lembrá-lo, bastava ser “socialista”. Desde que António Costa, com a sua proverbial fortitude, derrubou pela segunda vez o Muro de Berlim, os socialistas, tirando um excêntrico ou dois, podem estar tranquilos: “socialista” não é um nome feio. Mas nada garante que seja sempre assim. A não ser que certa gente do partido que Costa trouxe para junto de si tomar definitivamente conta do PS. Nesse caso, a paz poderá tornar-se definitiva. Com o PS a mudar até de nome: PSE – Partido Socialista de Esquerda. Lenine explica.

Sobre a diferença entre a política e a ciência política

Max Weber, “Science as a Vocation”, in Max Weber’s Complete Writings on Academic and Political Vocations, ed. John Dreijmanis (New York: Algora Publishing, 2008), 41-43:

Let us now focus our attention on the disciplines with which I am most closely concerned; that is, sociology, history, political economy and political science and those varieties of cultural philosophy whose function is to interpret them. It has been said, and I support this, that politics has no place in the lecture hall. It is out of place there when students introduce it. I would, for example, find it deplorable if, say, pacifist students surrounded my former colleague Dietrich Schäfer in Berlin in one of his lectures and created a disturbance, and I would find it equally deplorable if, as is said to have occurred, anti-pacifist students behaved in the same way toward Professor [Friedrich W.] Förster, although my views are in many respects as far from his as it is possible to be. But neither does politics have any place in the lecture hall when the lecturer introduces it. Least of all, when his own particular subject is political science. Views regarding issues of practical politics and scientific analysis of political structures and party positions are two quite different matters. If someone speaks about democracy in a public meeting, he should make no secret of his personal point of view. It is his confounded duty and obligation to take a clear partisan position. The words used are then not a means of scientific analysis, but of political campaigning to win over others to his point of view. They are not plowshares to break up the soil of contemplative thought, but swords to use against the adversary. They are weapons in the struggle.

In a lecture or in a lecture hall, on the other hand, it would be an outrage to use words in this way. In that situation, where the topic is “democracy,” for example, one will take the different forms of democracy and analyze them to establish how they function, and what particular consequences each has for the conditions of life, and then contrast them with other, non-democratic, forms of political order and attempt to reach the point at which the listener himself can adopt a stance in the light of his ultimate ideals. But the genuine teacher, speaking from the lectern, will take great care not to force any point of view on him, whether explicitly or by suggestion, while claiming to “let the facts speak for themselves,” which would naturally be a most underhand tactic.

But why should we not do this? I admit that many highly esteemed colleagues are of the opinion that such self-denial is not feasible, and if it were practiced it would be a mere eccentricity and should be avoided. Now, one cannot demonstrate scientifically what the duty of an academic teacher should be. One can only demand from him the intellectual integrity to be clear about the difference between, on the one hand, establishing facts, mathematical or logical states of affairs, or establishing the internal structure of cultural values, and on the other hand, answering the question of the value of culture and of its individual contents, followed by the question of how one should act within the cultural community and political associations. These are two entirely heterogeneous problems. If he goes on to ask why he should not deal with both in the lecture hall, the answer is because the prophet and the demagogue have no place at the lectern in the lecture hall. The message to both the prophet and the demagogue is: “Go out on the streets and speak publicly,” which is to say, go where criticism is possible. In the lecture hall the teacher sits facing an audience who are obliged to attend his lectures for the sake of their careers and remain silent while he speaks. I regard it as irresponsible if instead of giving his listeners the benefit of his knowledge and scientific experience, which is his duty, he takes advantage of a situation where there is no one there who can criticize him and attempts to impose his political views on them. No doubt, it may be impossible for the individual to disregard his subjective sympathies entirely, but he must then face the severest criticism in the forum of his own conscience. Promoting his own views confirms nothing, as purely factual errors are also possible. Yet, they attest nothing against his duty to seek the truth. I am therefore against this approach, not least in the interests of science. I am prepared to demonstrate, from the works of our historians, that whenever the man of science puts forward his own value judgment, full understanding of the facts ceases. But this subject is beyond the scope of this evening’s topic and would call for lengthy discussion.

Populismo, representação, redes sociais e conservadorismo

Roger Scruton, “Populism, VII: Representation & the people”:

The fact remains, however, that the accusation of “populism” is applied now largely to politicians on the right, with the implication that they are mobilizing passions that are both widespread and dangerous. On the whole liberals believe that politicians on the left win elections because they are popular, while politicians on the right win elections because they are populist. Populism is a kind of cheating, deploying weapons that civilized people agree not to use and which, once used, entirely change the nature of the game, so that those of gentle and considerate leanings are at an insuperable disadvantage. The division between the popular and the populist corresponds to the deep division in human nature, between the reasonable interests that are engaged by politics, and the dark passions that threaten to leave negotiation, conciliation, and compromise behind. Like “racism,” “xenophobia,” and “Islamophobia,” “populism” is a crime laid at the door of conservatives. For the desire of conservatives to protect the inherited identity of the nation, and to stand against what they see as the real existential threats posed by mass migration, is seen by their opponents as fear and hatred of the Other, which is seen in turn as the root cause of inter-communal violence.

(…).

The phenomenon of the instant plebiscite—what one might call the “webiscite”—is therefore far more important than has yet been recognized. Nor does it serve the interests only of the Right in politics. Almost every day there pops up on my screen a petition from Change.org or Avaaz.org urging me to experience the “one click” passport to moral virtue, bypassing all political processes and all representative institutions in order to add my vote to the cause of the day. Avaaz was and remains at the forefront of the groups opposing the “populism” of Donald Trump, warning against his apparent contempt for the procedures that would put brakes on his power. But in the instant politics of the webiscite such contradictions don’t matter. Consistency belongs with those checks and balances. Get over them, and get clicking instead.

It is not that the instant causes of the webiscites are wrong: without the kind of extensive debate that is the duty of a legislative assembly it is hard to decide on their merits. Nevertheless, we are constantly being encouraged to vote in the absence of any institution that will hold anyone to account for the decision. Nobody is asking us to think the matter through, or to raise the question of what other interests need to be considered, besides the one mentioned in the petition. Nobody in this process, neither the one who proposes the petition nor the many who sign it, has the responsibility of getting things right or runs the risk of being ejected from office if he fails to do so. The background conditions of representative government have simply been thought away, and all we have is the mass expression of opinion, without responsibility or risk. Not a single person who signs the petition, including those who compose it, will bear the full cost of it. For the cost is transferred to everyone, on behalf of whatever single-issue pressure group takes the benefit.

We are not creatures of the moment; we do not necessarily know what our own interests are, but depend upon advice and discussion. Hence we need processes that impede us from making impetuous choices; we need the filter that will bring us face to face with our real interests. It is precisely this that is being obscured by the emerging webiscite culture. Decisions are being made at the point of least responsibility, by the man or woman in the street with an iPhone, asked suddenly to click “yes” or “no” in response to an issue that they have never thought about before and may never think about again.

Reflect on these matters and you will come to see, I believe, that if “populism” threatens the political stability of democracies, it is because it is part of a wider failure to appreciate the virtue and the necessity of representation. For representative government to work, representatives must be free to ignore those who elected them, to consider each matter on its merits, and to address the interests of those who did not vote for them just as much as the interests of those who did. The point was made two centuries ago by Edmund Burke, that representation, unlike delegation, is an office, defined by its responsibilities. To refer every matter to the constituents and to act on majority opinion case by case is precisely to avoid those responsibilities, to retreat behind the consensus, and to cease to be genuinely accountable for what one does.

This brings me to the real question raised by the upheavals of 2016. In modern conditions, in which governments rarely enjoy a majority vote, most of us are living under a government of which we don’t approve. We accept to be ruled by laws and decisions made by politicians with whom we disagree, and whom we perhaps deeply dislike. How is that possible? Why don’t democracies constantly collapse, as people refuse to be governed by those they never voted for? Why do the protests of disenchanted voters crying “not my president!” peter out, and why has there been after all no mass exodus of liberals to Canada?

The answer is that democracies are held together by something stronger than politics. There is a “first person plural,” a pre-political loyalty, which causes neighbors who voted in opposing ways to treat each other as fellow citizens, for whom the government is not “mine” or “yours” but “ours,” whether or not we approve of it. Many are the flaws in this system of government, but one feature gives it an insuperable advantage over all others so far devised, which is that it makes those who exercise power accountable to those who did not vote for them. This kind of accountability is possible only if the electorate is bound together as a “we.” Only if this “we” is in place can the people trust the politicians to look after their interests. Trust enables people to cooperate in ensuring that the legislative process is reversible when it makes a mistake; it enables them to accept decisions that run counter to their individual desires and which express views of the nation and its future that they do not share. And it enables them to do this because they can look forward to an election in which they have a chance to rectify the damage.

That simple observation reminds us that representative democracy injects hesitation, circumspection, and accountability into the heart of government—qualities that play no part in the emotions of the crowd. Representative government is for this reason infinitely to be preferred to direct appeals to the people, whether by referendum, plebiscite, or webiscite. But the observation also reminds us that accountable politics depends on mutual trust. We must trust our political opponents to acknowledge that they have the duty to represent the people as a whole, and not merely to advance the agenda of their own political supporters.

But what happens when that trust disintegrates? In particular, what happens when the issues closest to people’s hearts are neither discussed nor mentioned by their representatives, and when these issues are precisely issues of identity—of “who we are” and “what unites us”? This, it seems to me, is where we have got to in Western democracies—in the United States just as much as in Europe. And recent events on both continents would be less surprising if the media and the politicians had woken up earlier to the fact that Western democracies—all of them without exception—are suffering from a crisis of identity. The “we” that is the foundation of trust and the sine qua non of representative government, has been jeopardized not only by the global economy and the rapid decline of indigenous ways of life, but also by the mass immigration of people with other languages, other customs, other religions, other ways of life, and other and competing loyalties. Worse than this is the fact that ordinary people have been forbidden to mention this, forbidden to complain about it publicly, forbidden even to begin the process of coming to terms with it by discussing what the costs and benefits might be.

Of course they have not been forbidden to discuss immigration in the way that Muslims are forbidden to discuss the origins of the Koran. Nor have they been forbidden by some express government decree. If they say the wrong things, they are not arrested and imprisoned—not yet, at least. They are silenced by labels—“racism,” “xenophobia,” “hate speech”—designed to associate them with the worst of recent crimes. In my experience, ordinary people wish to discuss mass immigration in order to prevent those crimes. But this idea is one that cannot be put in circulation, for the reason that the attempt to express it puts you beyond the pale of civilized discourse. Hillary Clinton made the point in her election campaign, with her notorious reference to the “deplorables”—in other words, the people who bear the costs of liberal policies and respond to them with predictable resentments.

(…)

ll this has left the conservative movement at an impasse. The leading virtue of conservative politics as I see it is the preference for procedure over ideological programs. Liberals tend to believe that government exists in order to lead the people into a better future, in which liberty, equality, social justice, the socialist millennium, or something of that kind will be realized. The same goal-directed politics has been attempted by the EU, which sees all governance as moving towards an “ever closer union,” in which borders, nations, and the antagonisms that allegedly grow from them will finally disappear. Conservatives believe that the role of government is not to lead society towards a goal but to ensure that, wherever society goes, it goes there peacefully. Government exists in order to conciliate opposing views, to manage conflicts, and to ensure peaceful transactions between the citizens, as they compete in the market, and associate in what Burke called their “little platoons.”

That conception of government is, to me, so obviously superior to all others that have entered the imperfect brains of political thinkers that I find myself irresistibly drawn to it. But it depends on a pre-political unity defined within recognized borders, and a sovereign territory that is recognizably “ours,” the place where “we” are, the home that we share with the strangers who are our “fellow countrymen.” All other ways of defining the “we” of human communities—whether through dynasty, tribe, religion, or the ruling Party—threaten the political process, since they make no room for opposition, and depend on conscripting the people to purposes that are not their own. But procedural politics of the conservative kind is possible only within the confines of a nation state—which is to say, a state defined over sovereign territory, whose citizens regard that territory as their legitimate home.

São os referendos bons para a democracia?

AC Grayling, “Are referendums good for democracy?”:

If you live in a small ancient Greek city with restrictions on who can take part in the political process, referendums are pretty well your only governmental decision-making resource.

But if you live in a populous, diverse and complex society, you do far better to avoid referendums, and instead to devise a representative democracy in which people are elected to act on the populace’s behalf by getting information, deliberating, discussing, listening to different points of view, making sober judgments, and acting on them wisely. If the representatives succeed in this, their electors might keep them in post. If they do not, their electors can throw them out.

There are two great advantages of the representative system. When combined with all the shortcomings of referendums, they show why the vote on 23rd June 2016 was such a farce. Regrettably, with MPs having voted in favour of triggering Article 50 on Wednesday night, the result is now very likely indeed to be acted upon.

The first such advantage is that the representative system allows the rest of us to get on with our lives, jobs and families without having to think about the minutiae of such things as legislation on health and safety in the gas industry, or amendments to §5(c)(ii) paragraph eight of the Heathlands and Waterways (Protected Fowl) Act of 1953. Much in the business of legislating involves equal quantities of boredom and expertise, each a great barrier to agora-style approaches to democracy, and they are peculiarly unfitted for them therefore.

The other advantage is that representative democracy is indirect democracy. The ignorance, self-interest, short-termism, emotion, prejudice and occasional knuckle-headedness of which almost all of us are capable are—or in the ideal should be—filtered out by the institutions and procedures of representative democracy, which are designed specifically for that purpose, and which accordingly allow mature intelligence to be focused on the business of government. Party politics interferes with this desirable arrangement, of course, and the result is not only that partisan interests and knuckle-headedness too often fail to get filtered out, but the very institutions and practices that exist to minimise such failure can be manipulated. But the system works often enough, at least for less contentious matters, and that is a good thing.

Referendums are in general inconsistent with this process. They bypass the institutions and procedures designed to optimise decision-making, and go straight for the opposite, posing a simplified question inviting a yes-no answer to a body of people among whom very few have given the matter much thought, or thought anything like informed and dispassionately enough. In handing decision-making over to a referendum, politicians thereby abdicate responsibility, and there is little guarantee that the outcome will be the most considered possible alternative.

Portugal na Monocle

A edição mais recente da Monocle inclui um relatório de 64 páginas dedicado a Portugal que aborda temas como o ambiente de negócios, o sector do turismo, a gastronomia, as livrarias, a indústria do vinho, entre outros. Não digam nada é aos ultra-pessimistas crónicos cá do burgo que julgam viver num país subdesenvolvido.

Sobre o futuro da ideia de inteligência

Stephen Cave, “Intelligence: a history”:

So when we reflect upon how the idea of intelligence has been used to justify privilege and domination throughout more than 2,000 years of history, is it any wonder that the imminent prospect of super-smart robots fills us with dread?

From 2001: A Space Odyssey to the Terminator films, writers have fantasised about machines rising up against us. Now we can see why. If we’re used to believing that the top spots in society should go to the brainiest, then of course we should expect to be made redundant by bigger-brained robots and sent to the bottom of the heap. If we’ve absorbed the idea that the more intelligent can colonise the less intelligent as of right, then it’s natural that we’d fear enslavement by our super-smart creations. If we justify our own positions of power and prosperity by virtue of our intellect, it’s understandable that we see superior AI as an existential threat.

(…).

We would do better to worry about what humans might do with AI, rather than what it might do by itself. We humans are far more likely to deploy intelligent systems against each other, or to become over-reliant on them. As in the fable of the sorcerer’s apprentice, if AIs do cause harm, it’s more likely to be because we give them well-meaning but ill-thought-through goals – not because they wish to conquer us. Natural stupidity, rather than artificial intelligence, remains the greatest risk.

It’s interesting to speculate about how we’d view the rise of AI if we had a different view of intelligence. Plato believed that philosophers would need to be cajoled into becoming kings, since they naturally prefer contemplation to mastery over men. Other traditions, especially those from the East, see the intelligent person as one who scorns the trappings of power as mere vanity, and who removes him or herself from the trivialities and tribulations of quotidian affairs.

Imagine if such views were widespread: if we all thought that the most intelligent people were not those who claimed the right to rule, but those who went to meditate in remote places, to free themselves of worldly desires; or if the cleverest of all were those who returned to spread peace and enlightenment. Would we still fear robots smarter than ourselves?

Preconceito, autoridade e razão

Miguel Morgado, Autoridade (Lisboa: Fundação Francisco Manuel dos Santos, 2010), 77–78:

Em sentido literal, isento de cargas pejorativas, o preconceito é tão-somente «o julgamento que se faz antes de se ter examinado todos os elementos que determinam uma situação». Assim, um preconceito não é necessariamente um julgamento errado. Não faltará, porém, quem diga que obedecer à autoridade é confessar a indisponibilidade ou a incapacidade para superar as alegadas carências do preconceito. Grande parte do pensamento do século XVIII europeu, a que se convencionou chamar das «Luzes», não protestou outra coisa. Há preconceitos cuja relevância e valor se podem dever às limitações naturais da condição humana. Contudo, outros preconceitos há que perduram graças exclusivamente à autoridade, que aqui funcionam como uma espécie de assistência respiratória de julgamentos duvidosos. Neste caso, preconceito e autoridade aliam-se para perpetuar a servidão humana, ou pelo menos de certos estratos da humanidade, aqueles que se sujeitam à autoridade e adoptam o preconceito. É também deste modo que os adversários da autoridade denunciam sub-repticiamente a associação entre autoridade e a negação da razão, ou aplaudem a alegada inimizade entre a autoridade e a razão. Recusam-se a aceitar que a compreensão humana do mundo decorre também dos julgamentos que temos de pronunciar em variadíssimas ocasiões da nossa vida, que a razão não opera num vazio histórico, que a aceitação da autoridade é uma prática incontornável e, em circunstâncias felizes e oportunas, proporcionadora de um recto exercício das faculdades do entendimento, justificada por a autoridade, enquanto autoridade, e na medida em que é autoridade, ser igualmente fonte de verdade. Recusam-se a aceitar que a relação entre a autoridade e a razão não é a de um simples confronto, apesar de lhes ser mostrado que o reconhecimento da autoridade sugere desde logo que não se prescindiu da razão. Esse reconhecimento traz implícito o raciocínio segundo o qual vale a pena aceitar o julgamento da autoridade porque esta pronuncia julgamentos superiores aos meus. Daí que seja enganador dizer que a autoridade é imposta por alguém sobre outrem. Na realidade, se a autoridade tem de ser reconhecida e aceite, o termo «imposição» torna-se deslocado. Ademais, a obediência à autoridade, que se segue ao seu reconhecimento, continua a comprovar que estamos diante de um acto regulado pela razão, já que a superioridade dos ditames da autoridade sobre os nossos julgamentos pode, em princípio, ser sempre demonstrada racionalmente.

A respeito de certas elites

E. M. Oblomov, “Intelligentsia Elegy”:

If some of Solzhenitsyn’s criticisms sound familiar to American conservatives, it may be because the qualities he despairs of are endemic to educated elites everywhere. Or, it may be because our American intelligentsia has been Russified over the past century. You would think that a free society would give full expression to the intelligentsia’s virtues. Yet, somehow our own intelligentsia, lacking any serious need for moral courage, has managed to concentrate in itself the worst aspects of its Russian cousins: sanctimony without sacrifice; obsession with egalitarian social justice that “paralyzes the love of and interest in truth”; hatred of its own history and the confusion of that hatred with a “passionate ethical impulse”; an exaggerated sense of its own rights and entitlements; contempt for the views of ordinary people; a transparently false, pretentious pose of acting only on the basis of undisputed facts and disinterested principle. If in the Soviet case we see a servile intelligentsia crouching defensively against an all-powerful totalitarian police state, in the United States we see a different dynamic: a powerful, self-assured intelligentsia increasingly at odds with the workings of democracy.

(…).

The American intelligentsia remains hard to define. A good working definition may be a class of educated people who, like Lewis Carroll’s White Queen, are able to believe as many as six impossible things before breakfast. Here, in no particular order, is a full day’s worth: colleges are hotbeds of rape culture; Cuba has excellent health care; the New York Times has no partisan bias; Islamophobia is a meaningful word; poverty causes crime; poverty causes terrorism; global warming causes terrorism; gender is a social construct; capitalism causes racism; racism causes crime; racism causes poverty; Oceania has always been at war with Eastasia; and so on.

At least in the Soviet case, complicity in a soul-crushing system of official lies was coerced at the point of a bayonet. It is disturbing that, with our intelligentsia, these beliefs are self-inflicted.

Diz que o islão é uma religião de paz

O Papa Francisco afirmou há dias que o Corão é um livro de paz e que o islão não é uma religião violenta. Entretanto, na Indonésia, o cristão governador de Jakarta que vai hoje a eleições enfrenta a fúria dos que querem vê-lo condenado em tribunal por blasfémia, ou seja, por alegadamente ter insultado o islão, apesar de 88% dos indonésios admitirem que não sabem ao certo o que Basuki Purnama Tjahaja terá dito.

A metodologia dos conservadores vs. a dos progressistas no debate político

Nuno Garoupa, “Confrontação”:

Nem já os americanos recordam o senador Bill Richardson, um conservador, hoje com 90 anos, que serviu no Senado da Califórnia vários mandatos entre 1966 e 1989 e nunca conseguindo ser eleito para o congresso federal. Fundou um grupo chamado Gun Owners of America (GOA) em 1975, rompendo com a National Rifle Association (NRA) por estar incomodado com os desvios de esquerdismo. E, em 1998, escreveu um livro algo desconhecido, Confrontational Politics, reeditado em 2010. Esta “obra literária” de 135 páginas seria irrelevante não fosse o “livrinho vermelho” de Steve Bannon e Jeff Sessions, os dois ideólogos da administração Trump.

Confrontational Politics abre com um diagnóstico do mundo em que vivemos – uma batalha fundamental entre os valores tradicionais (defendidos pelos conservadores) e os dogmas humanistas contemporâneos (impostos pelos progressistas). Acontece que os conservadores entram na discussão política com cortesia, civilidade, educação, ponderação e respeito pelas regras do debate. Pela sua forma de pensar e por respeito a uma tradição de elevação no espaço público, evitam o confronto direto e a retórica agressiva. Frente a um progressismo que não comunga de tais pruridos, o conservador acaba em posição defensiva. O progressista, adepto das técnicas marxistas e leninistas, inspirado na máxima “os fins justificam os meios”, provoca o confronto, usa retórica abusiva e agressiva para condicionar o conservador. Tudo isto resulta numa crescente influência da agenda progressista em detrimento do pensamento conservador. A fleuma, o respeito, a preferência por um debate equilibrado e institucional são desvantagens competitivas do conservador. Consequentemente, o conservador tem de abandonar esta forma de intervenção. Tem de passar ao confronto aberto. E esse confronto tem de ser agressivo e sem compromissos ou equilíbrios. Não há acordos possíveis com o progressismo enquanto a agenda conservadora não vingar. Política já não é procurar consensos ou mínimos denominadores comuns, mas guerra aberta – embora sem prisioneiros -, gritar mais alto, até o progressismo ser varrido dos tribunais, dos meios de comunicação, do espaço público. Mas, se os progressistas são o adversário a combater, o inimigo a obliterar são os conservadores consensuais. Porque são a quinta coluna, são quem mina o pensamento conservador e colabora com o adversário, permitindo a expansão do progressismo.

Sobre o politicamente correcto

Raymond Boudon, Os Intelectuais e o Liberalismo (Lisboa: Gradiva, 2005), 85-86:

Podemos afirmar que estes diversos factores – a descida média das exigências escolares e universitárias, a implantação de uma epistemologia que desvaloriza o conceito de um saber objectivo – produziram ainda outro efeito de importância crucial: contribuíram para um alastramento do moralismo nos meios do ensino e, mais ainda, nos meios intelectuais, já que é mais fácil emitir um juízo moral sobre um determinado episódio histórico ou sobre um determinado fenómeno social do que compreendê-lo. Compreender pressupõe ao mesmo tempo informação e competência analítica. Emitir um juízo moral, pelo contrário, não pressupõe nenhuma competência especial. O reconhecimento da capacidade de compreender pressupõe uma concepção objectivista do conhecimento. O reconhecimento da capacidade de sentir, não. Acresce que, se um dado juízo moral vai ao encontro da sensibilidade de um certo público, ou cumpre os dogmas que cimentam uma determinada rede de influência, pode ser socialmente rentável.

A isto é preciso acrescentar, antecipando uma objecção possível, que o relativismo cognitivo – o relativismo em matéria de saber – não implica de maneira nenhuma o relativismo em matéria de moral. Pelo contrário, o relativismo cognitivo estimula a ética da convicção. Porque, como uma convicção não pode, à luz do relativismo cognitivo, ser objectivamente fundamentada, o facto de ser vivida como justa é facilmente encarado como único critério que permite validá-la. Este critério tende por isso a ser considerado necessário e suficiente. O episódio do Quebeque a que anteriormente me referi, em que um grupo de feministas propôs que fossem atenuadas as exigências do doutoramento a favor das mulheres, com o argumento de que o saber é sempre incerto enquanto as exigências morais são irrecusáveis, é um exemplo que atesta este efeito.

Assim se compreende que a desvalorização do saber possa ser acompanhada de uma sobrevalorização da moral ou, mais exactamente, de uma exacerbação das exigências em matéria de igualdade em detrimento de outros valores. É talvez este fenómeno que algumas expressões hoje repetidas à exaustão tentam captar: «o pensamento único», «o politicamente correcto», a political correctness.

Liberais e conservadores precisam uns dos outros

George H. Nash, “Populism, I: American conservatism and the problem of populism”:

In the late 1950s and early 1960s the three independent wings of the conservative revolt against the Left began to coalesce around National Review, founded by William F. Buckley Jr. in 1955. Apart from his extraordinary talents as a writer, debater, and public intellectual, Buckley personified each impulse in the developing coalition. He was at once a traditional Christian, a defender of the free market, and a staunch anticommunist (a source of his ecumenical appeal to conservatives).

As this consolidation began to occur, a serious challenge arose to the fragile conservative identity: a growing and permanent tension between the libertarians and the traditionalists. To the libertarians the highest good in society was individual liberty, the emancipation of the autonomous self from external (especially governmental) restraint. To the traditionalists (who tended to be more religiously oriented than most libertarians) the highest social good was not unqualified freedom but ordered freedom grounded in community and resting on the cultivation of virtue in the individual soul. Such cultivation, argued the traditionalists, did not arise spontaneously. It needed the reinforcement of mediating institutions (such as schools, churches, and synagogues) and at times of the government itself. To put it another way, libertarians tended to believe in the beneficence of an uncoerced social order, both in markets and morals. The traditionalists often agreed, more or less, about the market order (as opposed to statism), but they were far less sanguine about an unregulated moral order.

Not surprisingly, this conflict of visions generated a tremendous controversy on the American Right in the early 1960s, as conservative intellectuals attempted to sort out their first principles. The argument became known as the freedom-versus-virtue debate. It fell to a former Communist and chief ideologist at National Review, a man named Frank Meyer, to formulate a middle way that became known as fusionism—that is, a fusing or merging of the competing paradigms of the libertarians and the traditionalists. In brief, Meyer argued that the overriding purpose of government was to protect and promote individual liberty, but that the supreme purpose of the free individual should be to pursue a life of virtue, unfettered by and unaided by the State.

As a purely theoretical construct, Meyer’s fusionism did not convince all his critics, then or later. But as a formula for political action and as an insight into the actual character of American conservatism, his project was a considerable success. He taught libertarian and traditionalist purists that they needed one another and that American conservatism must not become doctrinaire. To be relevant and influential, it must stand neither for dogmatic antistatism at one extreme nor for moral authoritarianism at the other, but for a society in which people are simultaneously free to choose and desirous of choosing the path of virtue.

(…).

What do conservatives want? To put it in elementary terms, I believe they want what nearly all conservatives since 1945 have wanted: they want to be free; they want to live virtuous and meaningful lives; and they want to be secure from threats both beyond and within our borders. They want to live in a society whose government respects and encourages these aspirations while otherwise leaving people alone. Freedom, virtue, and safety: goals reflected in the libertarian, traditionalist, and national security dimensions of the conservative movement as it has developed over the past seventy years. In other words, there is at least a little fusionism in nearly all of us. It is something to build on. But it will take time.

Multiculturalismo e imigração

Roger Scruton, How to be a conservative (London: Bloomsbury Publishing Plc, 2014), 90-92:

Once we distinguish race and culture, the way is open to acknowledge that not all cultures are equally admirable, and that not all cultures can exist comfortably side by side. To deny this is to forgo the very possibility of moral judgement, and therefore to deny the fundamental experience of community. It is precisely this that has caused the multiculturalists to hesitate. It is culture, not nature, that tells a family that their daughter who has fallen in love outside the permitted circle must be killed, that girls must undergo genital mutilation if they are to be respectable, that the infidel must be destroyed when Allah commands it. You can read about those things and think they belong to the pre-history of our world. But when suddenly they are happening in your midst, you are apt to wake up to the truth about the culture that advocates them. You are apt to say, that is not our culture, and it has no business here. And you will probably be tempted to go one stage further, the stage that the Enlightenment naturally invites, and to say that it has no business anywhere.

For what is brought home to us, through painful experiences that we might have avoided had it been permitted before now to say the truth, is that we, like everyone else, depend upon a shared culture for our security, our prosperity and our freedom to be. We don’t require everyone to have the same faith, to lead the same kind of family life or to participate in the same festivals. But we have a shared civic culture, a shared language and a shared public sphere. Our societies are built upon the Judaeo-Christian ideal of neighbour-love, according to which strangers and intimates deserve equal concern. They require each of us to respect the freedom and sovereignty of every person, and to acknowledge the threshold of privacy beyond which it is a trespass to go unless invited. Our societies depend upon law-abidingness and open contracts, and they reinforce these things through the educational traditions that have shaped our common curriculum. It is not an arbitrary cultural imperialism that leads us to value Greek philosophy and literature, the Hebrew Bible, Roman law, and the medieval epics and romances and to teach these things in our schools. They are ours in just the way that the legal order and the political institutions are ours: they form part of what made us, and convey the message that it is right to be what we are. And reason endorses these things, and tells us that our civic culture is not just a parochial possession of inward-looking communities, but a justified way of life.

Over time, immigrants can come to share these things with us: the experience of America bears ample witness to this. And they more easily do so when they recognize that, in any meaningful sense of the word, our culture is also a multi-culture, incorporating elements absorbed in ancient times from all around the Mediterranean basin and in modern times from the adventures of European traders and explorers across the world. But this kaleidoscopic culture is still one thing, with a set of inviolable principles at its core; and it is the source of social cohesion across Europe and America. Our culture allows for a great range of ways of life; it enables people to privatize their religion and their family customs, while still belonging to the public realm of open dealings and shared allegiance. For it defines that public realm in legal and territorial terms, and not in terms of creed or kinship.

So what happens when people whose identity is fixed by creed or kinship immigrate into places settled by Western culture? The activists say that we must make room for them, and that we do this by relinquishing the space in which their culture can flourish. Our political class has at last recognized that this is a recipe for disaster, and that we can welcome immigrants only if we welcome them into our culture, and not beside or against it. But that means telling them to accept rules, customs and procedures that may be alien to their old way of life. Is this an injustice? I do not think that it is. If immigrants come it is because they gain by doing so. It is therefore reasonable to remind them that there is also a cost. Only now, however, is our political class prepared to say so, and to insist that cost be paid.

A Europa inimiga de si própria

Charles Hill, “Islamism Implacable”:

Put simply, the European Union made itself the epitome of the Modern Age by relentless secularization. Islamism, emerging from the post–World War I collapse of the Ottoman empire and caliphate, made itself the vanguard of jihadist religion’s rise to become the implacable adversary of modernity. If Europe is where the siege is to take place, the drawbridge already is up: Islamism abhors the state; the EU has emasculated it.

Islamism recognizes only one border: between itself and regions yet to become Muslim; Europe has opened its borders to the point of abolishing the concept altogether.

Islamism regards democracy as un-Islamic because it enacts laws other than sharia; the European Union from its inception has acted assiduously to prevent people from governing themselves democratically.

Islamists, like Machiavelli, know that armed prophets are victorious and unarmed prophets are destroyed; the European Union has deliberately diminished its capacities to defend itself or to back its diplomacy with strength.

And while Islamists declare religion to be the answer, the EU has seen religion as the problem. As Pierre Manent has pointed out, had Europeans maintained their identity as sovereign states with a Christian heritage, the assimilation of Muslims could have been possible on the basis of comity,  whereas now it lacks an answer to “assimilation to what?”

Americans need to understand that the Modern Age with its pluralistic structures, societies, and beliefs is under assault and that the enemies of modernity are uniate, unwilling to accept others on an equal basis. In this context America’s involvement in the Middle East must take the side of pluralistic states and parties compatible with the international system.

Only Europeans can rectify the flaws in the European Union’s design to enable Europe to act on the world stage as a bordered state incorporating its historic nation-states in confederation. And only Europeans can attend to the needs of the European soul.

But however the relationship between Britain and Europe comes out, the United States must regard its relations with both as “special.” Transatlantic unity has been the keystone of the defense and extension of freedom in war-time for a hundred years and must remain so.

It is not the European Union but NATO that has been the key to transatlantic solidarity. Strengthening NATO as a military alliance with political consequences in support of a reformed European Union must be at the core of American policy. NATO’s role “out of area” will be vital along with continued efforts to integrate like-minded partners to the extent possible: Russia, Israel, the gulf Arab states. The Modern Age itself is at stake.

O tempo das indignações fugazes e das certezas absolutas

Na era da informação, em que temos à distância de alguns cliques todo o tipo de conteúdos sobre toda e qualquer temática, em que qualquer um pode comentar tudo e mais alguma coisa sempre que o deseje através dos mais diversos aparelhos tecnológicos e utilizando as mais variadas plataformas de comunicação, como as redes sociais e os blogs, não deixa de ser particularmente penoso constatar que a ignorância, o dogmatismo e o fanatismo parecem também ser potenciados pelos meios que temos ao nosso alcance.

Com efeito, não é novidade para ninguém que as redes sociais vivem, em larga medida, das indignações fugazes. Há dois meses era a indignação de certa esquerda com Ricardo Araújo Pereira, há umas semanas era a indignação com um dos sócios da Padaria Portuguesa e, por ora, não me ocorrem outras indignações recentes, pelo simples facto de que são tão fugazes e, muitas vezes, tão patetas, que mal ficam na memória. Pelo meio, na forma, as indignações são sempre iguais: surgem rapidamente como reacção às declarações de alguém, têm um efeito viral nas redes sociais e geram barricadas que se digladiam furiosamente até, de repente, deixarem de o fazer – ou porque o assunto se esgotou, ou porque surgiu outra indignação ou qualquer outro evento mediático que capta a atenção da esmagadora maioria dos indignados.

O dogmatismo marca quase sempre presença nestas indignações, mas não é exclusivo dos constantemente indignados. Parece haver, entre muitos dos mais diversos intervenientes nos espaços públicos e políticos das sociedades demo-liberais, desde os mais aos menos esclarecidos, um dogmatismo que seria de esperar que os desenvolvimentos tecnológicos atenuassem, mas que acabam também por potenciar, talvez porque grande parte dos indivíduos viva em câmaras de eco, espaços em que determinadas ideias circulam, são reforçadas e não são questionadas e em que ideias divergentes são suprimidas, o que acaba por contribuir para a criação e/ou reforço de trincheiras político-ideológicas.

Não deixa de ser irónico que, sendo a filosofia moderna (e o ambiente intelectual contemporâneo) permeada pela dúvida cartesiana e pela impossibilidade de ter certezas, e quando tanto se fala em “pós-verdade” e “factos alternativos”, tantos pareçam ter tantas certezas absolutas sobre tudo e mais alguma coisa. De onde estas certezas vêm, pouco parece importar. Alguns socorrem-se da religião, outros da ideologia e outros ainda da realidade – como se pudessem ter contactos imediatos com “a realidade” e a pudessem avaliar objectivamente e sem referência ao enquadramento cultural que lhes fornece as ferramentas para a interpretar.

Naturalmente, isto faz com que o ambiente social e político  se torne exasperante, sendo essencialmente uma arena em que os mais diversos grupos se confrontam sem que haja grande esperança de poderem ter uma discussão racional, sendo o debate político e moral reduzido a um confronto de vontades.

Provavelmente, pouco ou nada haverá a fazer quanto a este ambiente. Mas permitam-me terminar com uma nota de esperança, relembrando uma célebre passagem do ensaio “Philosophy and Politics” de Bertrand Russell:

The genuine Liberal does not say ‘this is true’, he says ‘I am inclined to think that under present circumstances this opinion is probably the best’. And it is only in this limited and undogmatic sense that he will advocate democracy.
What has theoretical philosophy to say that is relevant to the validity or otherwise of the Liberal outlook?
The essence of the Liberal outlook lies not in what opinions are held, but in how they are held: instead of being held dogmatically, they are held tentatively, and with a consciousness that new evidence may at any moment lead to their abandonment. This is the way in which opinions are held in science, as opposed to the way in which they are held in theology.

Da ciência do governo

Edmund Burke, Select Works of Edmund Burke, vol. 2 (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 1999), 153 (tradução minha):

Sendo a ciência do governo, portanto, tão prática em si mesma, e destinada a tais propósitos práticos, uma matéria que requer experiência, e ainda mais experiência do que uma pessoa pode adquirir em toda a sua vida, por mais sagaz e observador que possa ser, é com infinita cautela que qualquer homem deve aventurar-se a demolir um edifício que tenha respondido em qualquer grau tolerável, durante épocas, aos propósitos comuns da sociedade, ou a reconstruí-lo novamente sem ter modelos e padrões de utilidade aprovados perante os seus olhos.

Globalização, liberalismo e comunitarismo

Amitai Etzioni, “We must not be enemies”:

As I see it, the rise of right-wing populism in the United States and in Europe can be attributed to no small extent to the profound misunderstanding globalists have of community and communitarian values. Globalists tend to view society as composed of freestanding individuals, each of whom has his or her own individual rights and is keen to pursue his or her own self-interest. As a result, globalists assume that, given the proper information, their fellow citizens will see that their aging societies are refreshed by immigration, that free trade raises the standard of living for everyone, and that individual rights outweigh tribalism.

The trouble with this liberal view of society is less what it claims and more what it leaves out: namely, that people are also social creatures, whose flourishing and psychological well-being depend on strong, lasting, meaningful relationships with others and on the sharing of moral and social values. These relationships and values are found in national and local communities (including families, which are micro-communities). By definition, communities are circumscribed rather than all-inclusive and are inevitably parochial rather than global. Still, the values of communities can be reconciled with globalist values.

If the goal of progressives is to reduce right-wing populism, violence, prejudice, and xenophobia, then communities must be nurtured as they are urged toward equanimity, the rejection of unfounded fears, and above all tolerance. These goals cannot be achieved by denigrating parochialism. Rather, globalists must understand that parochialism can be reconfigured but cannot, and should not, be eliminated.

(…)

Above all, globalists ignore the effects of free trade on people’s essential communitarian needs. Economists often fail to understand people who are reluctant to move from West Virginia to Montana, say, when the coal industry is declining but the gas industry is growing. They do not sufficiently consider that people lose their communal bonds when they make such moves. People leave behind the friends they can call on when they are sick or grieving and the places where their elders are buried. Their children miss their own friends, and everyone in the family feels ripped away from the centers of their social lives: school, church, social club, union hall, or American Legion post. A reliable evaluation of the benefits of trade should take into account the destructive effects on communities of churning the labor force. We should at least feel the pain of the casualties of free trade rather than denigrate them as redneck boors who just don’t get it.

(…)

Globalists favor the free movement of people across national borders. They strongly support the Schengen Agreement, which removes border controls among many members of the European Union. They cheered Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, for welcoming millions of immigrants to Germany. And they view Trump’s call for building a wall on the Mexican border and restriction on immigration from Muslim countries as typical right-wing, xenophobic, reactionary policies.

However, the well-known social psychologist Jonathan Haidt views mass immigration as the trigger that set off the authoritarian impulses of many nations. He concludes that it is possible to have moderate levels of immigration from “morally different ethnic groups”—so long as they are seen to be “assimilating to the host culture”—but high levels of immigration from countries with different moral values, without successful assimilation, will trigger an authoritarian backlash. Haidt suggests that immigration policies ought to take into account three factors: “the percentage of foreign-born residents at any given time; the degree of moral difference [between the] incoming group [and the members of the host society]; and the degree of assimilation being achieved by each group’s children.” Globalists do not approve of this approach.

Progressives are sure to continue to favor a path to citizenship for millions of undocumented immigrants. But they’d better pay more attention to the further acculturation of this large group than many globalists do. To favor unlimited immigration—whatever the numbers and the cultural differences—is possible only if human rights outweigh all concerns about the value and importance of communal bonds, shared moral understanding, and a sense of identity, history, and fate. Adding a sizable number of people who are indistinguishable from its current members will stress a given community. Adding a large number of culturally distinct people is very likely to engender social tensions. The answer is not to draw up the bridges or build walls but to adopt realistic sociological strategies for absorbing immigrants into their new, host communities.

(…)

Even a global community, if one can be forged, would have to be constructed on top of local, regional, and national communities, rather than as a single independent entity composed of more than seven billion individuals, each with individual rights but no social bonds or set of shared values. Thus, universalism and parochialism can be combined, but attempts to maximize either position are sure to lead to troubling, socially disturbing results.

(…)

Communitarian sociologists have been pointing out that, for two centuries, the rise of modernity has threatened the communal bonds and shared moral cultures that are essential for a person’s sense of identity, emotional stability, and moral codes. Studies of the rise of Nazism show that communities serve as the best antidote to the mass appeal of demagogues. The kind of reasoned, self-governing, tolerant, civil person whom globalists favor is much less likely to be found among individuals outside the bonds of community than among people with stable social bonds, imbued with a proper moral culture. Hence, globalists have strong reasons to shore up communities.

(…)

Progressives should remember that nobody can bond with seven billion people, and almost everyone feels more responsibility toward those closest to them. People have profound needs for lasting social relations, meaning, and shared moral beliefs. Globalist values can be combined with nationalist, parochial ones—demanding that communities not violate individual rights while allowing them to foster bonds and values for their members in the ways that suit them best.

Local communities need to be nurtured rather than denounced, not only because they satisfy profound human needs but also because they anchor people to each other and thus help to dilute appeals to their worst instincts. Championing fair trade, fostering diversity within a framework of unity and shared values, and accepting many kinds of communities as long as they respect rights—all are positions that show understanding and even empathy for citizens who voted for Donald Trump and will go a long way toward making America as great as it can be.

Do dogmatismo da ideologia de género

Camille Paglia, “Liberdade vs. politicamente correcto,” Ler, no. 144 (Inverno de 2016): 67:

Mantenho, de acordo com a minha desalentada observação na época, que esses novos programas suplementares raramente, ou mesmo nunca, se alicerçavam em princípios académicos autênticos: eram gestos de relações públicas destinados a abafar críticas de um passado intolerante. Na concepção de qualquer programa de estudos femininos, por exemplo, devia ser obrigatório para as alunas fazerem pelo menos uma cadeira de biologia básica, para que o papel das hormonas no desenvolvimento humano pudesse ser investigado – e rejeitado, se necessário. Mas não, tanto os estudos femininos como, mais tarde, os estudos de género evoluíram sem referência à ciência, garantindo desse modo que a sua ideologia permaneceria partidária e unidimensional, a sublinhar a construção social do género. Qualquer ponto de vista diferente é considerado uma heresia e praticamente nunca foi sequer apresentado aos estudantes como hipótese alternativa.