Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Harry Potter, Zionist plotter

Thomas Lifson

When it comes to lunatic conspiracy theorists, the Middle East dominates the world's supply as thoroughly as it does our oil reserves. The latest discovery is the extent of Zionist chicanery concerns Harry Potter. Nissan Ratzlav-Katz of Aruzt Sheva reports:

Kayhahn, an Iranian publication closely affiliated with the ruling mullahs and Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, called the Harry Potter series "a billion-dollar Zionist project." The Potter books were designed by Zionist plotters, according to the Kayhahn editorial, to "disrupt young minds."
Khamenei had criticized Iran's Culture and Islamic Guidance Ministry for approving the distribution of the latest book in the Harry Potter series, which was released last weekend with much fanfare.

So the young minds of Iran are being poisoned by Harry and his wizards. Who knew?

It also turns out it is the Zionists who are responsible for the Arab genocide against black Africans in Darfur:

Sudan's Defense Minister Abdelrahim Mohammad Hussein blamed Jews for the
ongoing violence and ethnic cleansing in southern Sudan. According to Hussein, the Jews are wielding their control of the international media and financial markets on behalf of "rebel elements" inside Darfur, including by direct financial and political support. He made the comments during an interview this week with the Saudi Arabian Okaz daily.

"Yes, [Jews] provide political and material support through their control over the media and across American and British circles," Hussein charged. "The Darfur issue is being fueled by 24 Jewish organizations, who are making the largest amount of noise over the issue, and using the Holocaust in their campaigning," he said.

Consider yourself warned.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

The Chasm (part 2)

There are many words commonly used today to describe political attitudes. We are told that there are conservatives, liberals, libertarians, right-wingers, left-wingers, socialists, communists, Trotskyites, Maoists, Fascists, Nazis; and if that isn’t confusing enough, now we have neo conservatives, neo Nazis, and neo everything else. When we are asked what our political orientation is, we are expected to choose from one of these words. If we don’t have a political opinion or if we’re afraid of making a bad choice, then we play it safe and say we are moderates – adding yet one more word to the list. Yet, not one person in a thousand can clearly define the ideology that any of these words represent. They are used, primarily, as labels to impart an aura of either goodness or badness, depending on who uses the words and what emotions they trigger in their minds.

For example, what is a realistic definition of a conservative? A common response would be that a conservative it a person who wants to conserve the status quo and is opposed to change. But, most people who call themselves conservatives are not in favor of conserving the present system of high taxes, deficit spending, expanding welfare, leniency to criminals, foreign aid, growth of government, or any of the other hallmarks of the present order. These are the jealously guarded bastions of what we call liberalism. Yesterday’s liberals are the conservatives of today, and the people who call themselves conservatives are really radicals, because they want a radical change from the status quo. It’s no wonder that most political debates sound like they originate at the tower of Babel. Everyone is speaking a different language. The words may sound familiar, but speakers and listeners each have their own private definitions.

It has been my experience that, once the definitions are commonly understood, most of the disagreements come to an end. To the amazement of those who thought they were bitter ideological opponents, they often find they are actually in basic agreement. So, to deal with this word, collectivism, our first order of business is to throw out the garbage. If we are to make sense of the political agendas that dominate our planet today, we must not allow our thinking to be contaminated by the emotional load of the old vocabulary.

It may surprise you to learn that most of the great political debates of our time – at least in the Western world – can be divided into just two viewpoints. All of the rest is fluff. Typically, they focus on whether or not a particular action should be taken; but the real conflict is not about the merits of the action; it is about the principles, the ethical code that justifies or forbids that action. It is a contest between the ethics of collectivism on the one hand and individualism on the other. Those are words that have meaning, and they describe a chasm of morality that divides the entire Western world.

The one thing that is common to both collectivists and individualists is that the vast majority of them are well intentioned. They want the best life possible for their families, for their countrymen, and for mankind. They want prosperity and justice for their fellow man. Where they disagree is how to bring those things about.

I have studied collectivist literature for over forty years; and, after a while, I realized there were certain recurring themes. I was able to identify what I consider to be the six pillars of collectivism. If these pillars are turned upside down, they also are the six pillars of individualism. In other words, there are six major concepts of social and political relationships; and, within each of them, collectivists and individualists have opposite viewpoints.

The first of these has to do with the nature of human rights. Collectivists and individualists both agree that human rights are important, but they differ over how important and especially over what is presumed to be the origin of those rights. There are only two possibilities in this debate. Either man’s rights are intrinsic to his being, or they are extrinsic, meaning that either he possesses them at birth or they are given to him afterward. In other words, they are either hardware or software. Individualists believe they are hardware. Collectivists believe they are software.

If rights are given to the individual after birth, then who has the power to do that? Collectivists believe that is a function of government. Individualists are nervous about that assumption because, if the state has the power to grant rights, it also has the power to take them away, and that concept is incompatible with personal liberty.

The view of individualism was expressed clearly in the United States Declaration of Independence, which said:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among men….

Nothing could be more clear than that. “Unalienable Rights” means they are the natural possession of each of us upon birth, not granted by the state. The purpose of government is, not to grant rights, but to secure them and protect them.

By contrast, all collectivist political systems embrace the opposite view that rights are granted by the state. That includes the Nazis, Fascists, and Communists. It is also a tenet of the United Nations. Article Four of the UN Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights says:

The States Parties to the present Covenant recognize that, in the enjoyment of those rights provided by the State … the State may subject such rights only to such limitations as are determined by law.

I repeat: If we accept that the state has the power to grant rights, then we must also agree it has the power to take them away. Notice the wording of the UN Covenant. After proclaiming that rights are provided by the state, it then says that those rights may be subject to limitations “as are determined by law.” In other words, the collectivists at the UN presume to grant us our rights and, when they are ready to take them away, all they have to do is pass a law authorizing it.

Compare that with the Bill of Rights in the United States Constitution. It says Congress shall pass no law restricting the rights of freedom of speech, or religion, peaceful assembly, the right to bear arms, and so forth – not except as determined by law, but no law. The Constitution embodies the ethic of individualism. The UN embodies the ethic of collectivism, and what a difference that makes.

The second concept that divides collectivism from individualism has to do with the origin of state power. Individualists believe that a just government derives its power, not from conquest and subjugation of its citizens, but from the free consent of the governed. That means the state cannot have any legitimate powers unless they are given to it by its citizens. Another way of putting it is that governments may do only those things that their citizens also have a right to do. If individuals don’t have the right to perform a certain act, then they can’t grant that power to their elected representatives. They can’t delegate what they don’t have.

Let us use an extreme example. Let us assume that a ship has been sunk in a storm, and three exhausted men are struggling for survival in the sea. Suddenly, they come upon a life-buoy ring. The ring is designed only to keep one person afloat; but, with careful cooperation between them, it can keep two of them afloat. But, when the third man grasps the ring, it becomes useless, and all three, once again, are at the mercy of the sea. They try taking turns: one treading water while two hold on to the ring; but after a few hours, none of them have enough strength to continue. The grim truth gradually becomes clear: unless one of them is cut loose from the group, all three will drown. What, then, should these men do?

Most people would say that two of the men would be justified in overpowering the third and casting him off. The right of self-survival is paramount. Taking the life of another, terrible as such an act would be, is morally justified if it is necessary to save your own life. That certainly is true for individual action, but what about collective action? Where do two men get the right to gang up on one man?

The collectivist answers that two men have a greater right to life because they outnumber the third one. It’s a question of mathematics: The greatest good for the greatest number. That makes the group more important than the individual and it justifies two men forcing one man away from the ring. There is a certain logical appeal to this argument but, if we further simplify the example, we will see that, although the action may be correct, it is justified by the wrong reasoning.

Let us assume, now, that there are only two survivors – so we eliminate the concept of the group – and let us also assume that the ring will support only one swimmer, not two. Under these conditions, it would be similar to facing an enemy in battle. You must kill or be killed. Only one can survive. We are dealing now with the competing right of self-survival for each individual, and there is no mythological group to confuse the issue. Under this extreme condition, it is clear that each person would have the right to do whatever he can to preserve his own life, even if it leads to the death of another. Some may argue that it would be better to sacrifice one’s life for a stranger, but few would argue that not to do so would be wrong. So, when the conditions are simplified to their barest essentials, we see that the right to deny life to others comes from the individual’s right to protect his own life. It does not need the so-called group to ordain it.

In the original case of three survivors, the justification for denying life to one of them does not come from a majority vote but from their individual and separate right of selfsurvival. In other words, either of them, acting alone, would be justified in this action. They are not empowered by the group. When we hire police to protect our community, we are merely asking them to do what we, ourselves, have a right to do. Using physical force to protect our lives, liberty, and property is a legitimate function of government, because that power is derived from the people as individuals. It does not arise from the group.

Here’s one more example – a lot less extreme but far more typical of what actually goes on every day in legislative bodies. If government officials decide one day that no one should work on Sunday, and even assuming the community generally supports their decision, where would they get the authority to use the police power of the state to enforce such a decree? Individual citizens don’t have the right to compel their neighbors not to work, so they can’t delegate that right to their government. Where, then, would the state get the authority? The answer is that it would come from itself; it would be self-generated. It would be similar to the divine right of ancient monarchies in which it was assumed that governments represent the power and the will of God – as interpreted by their earthly leaders, of course. In more modern times, most governments don’t even pretend to have God as their authority, they just rely on swat teams and armies, and anyone who objects is eliminated. As that well-known collectivist, Mao Tse-Tung, phrased it: “Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun.”

When governments claim to derive their authority from any source other than the governed, it always leads to the destruction of liberty. Preventing men from working on Sunday would not seem to be a great threat to freedom, but once the principle is established, it opens the door for more edicts, and more, and more until freedom is gone. If we accept that the state or any group has the right to do things that individuals alone do not have the right to do, then we have unwittingly endorsed the concept that rights are not intrinsic to the individual and that they, in fact, do originate with the state. Once we accept that, we are well on the road to tyranny.

Collectivists are not concerned over such picky issues. They believe that governments do, in fact, have powers that are greater than those of their citizens, and the source of those powers, they say, is, not the individuals within society, but society itself, the group to which individuals belong.

This is the third concept that divides collectivism from individualism. Collectivism is based on the belief that the group is more important than the individual. According to this view, the group is an entity of its own and it has rights of its own. Furthermore, those rights are more important than individual rights. Therefore, it is acceptable to sacrifice individuals if necessary for “the greater good of the greater number.” How many times have we heard that? Who can object to the loss of liberty if it is justified as necessary for the greater good of society? The ultimate group, of course, is the state. Therefore, the state is more important than individual citizens, and it is acceptable to sacrifice individuals, if necessary, for the benefit of the state. This concept is at the heart of all modern totalitarian systems built on the model of collectivism.

Individualists on the other hand say, “Wait a minute. Group? What is group? That’s just a word. You can’t touch a group. You can’t see a group. All you can touch and see are individuals. The word group is an abstraction and doesn’t exist as a tangible reality. It’s like the abstraction called forest. Forest doesn’t exist. Only trees exist. Forest is the concept of many trees. Likewise, the word group merely describes the abstract concept of many individuals. Only individuals are real and, therefore, there is no such thing as group rights. Only individuals have rights.

Just because there are many individuals in one group and only a few in another does not give a higher priority to the individuals in the larger group – even if you call it the state. A majority of voters do not have more rights than the minority. Rights are not derived from the power of numbers. They do not come from the group. They are intrinsic with each human being.

When someone argues that individuals must be sacrificed for the greater good of society, what they are really saying is that some individuals are to be sacrificed for the greater good of other individuals. The morality of collectivism is based on numbers. Anything may be done so long as the number of people benefiting supposedly is greater than the number of people being sacrificed. I say supposedly, because, in the real world, those who decide who is to be sacrificed don’t count fairly. Dictators always claim they represent the greater good of the greater number but, in reality, they and their support organizations comprise less than one percent of the population. The theory is that someone has to speak for the masses and represent their best interest, because they are too dumb to figure it out for themselves. So collectivist leaders, wise and virtuous as they are, make the decisions for them. It is possible to explain any atrocity or injustice as a necessary measure for the greater good of society. Totalitarians always parade as humanitarians.

Because individualists do not accept group supremacy, collectivists often portray them as being selfish and insensitive to the needs of others. That theme is common in schools today. If a child is not willing to go along with the group, he is criticized as being socially disruptive and not being a good “team player” or a good citizen. Those nice folks at the tax-exempt foundations had a lot to do with that. But individualism is not based on ego. It is based on principle. If you accept the premise that individuals may be sacrificed for the group, you have made a huge mistake on two counts. First, individuals are the essence of the group, which means the group is being sacrificed anyway, piece by piece. Secondly, the underlying principle is deadly. Today, the individual being sacrificed may be unknown to you or even someone you dislike. Tomorrow, it could be you.

We are dealing here with one of the reasons people make a distinction between republics and democracies. In recent years, we have been taught to believe that a democracy is the ideal form of government. Supposedly, that is what was created by the American Constitution. But, if you read the documents and the speech transcripts of the men who wrote the Constitution, you find that they spoke very poorly of democracy. They said in plain words that a democracy was one of the worst possible forms of government. And so they created what they called a republic. That is why the word democracy doesn’t appear anywhere in the Constitution; and, when Americans pledge allegiance to the flag, it’s to the republic for which it stands, not the democracy. When Colonel Davy Crockett joined the Texas Revolution prior to the famous Battle of the Alamo, he refused to sign the oath of allegiance to the future government of Texas until the wording was changed to the future republican government of Texas.3 The reason this is important is that the difference between a democracy and a republic is the difference between collectivism and individualism.

In a pure democracy, the majority rules; end of discussion. You might say, “What’s wrong with that?” Well, there could be plenty wrong with that. What about a lynch mob? There is only one person with a dissenting vote, and he is the guy at the end of the rope. That’s pure democracy in action.

“Ah, wait a minute,” you say. “The majority should rule. Yes, but not to the extent of denying the rights of the minority,” and, of course, you would be correct. That is precisely what a republic accomplishes. A republic is a limited democracy – a government based on the principle of limited majority rule so that the minority – even a minority of one – will be protected from the whims and passions of the majority. Republics are often characterized by written constitutions that spell out the rules to make that possible. That was the function of the American Bill of Rights, which is nothing more than a list of things the government may not do. It says that Congress, even though it represents the majority, shall pass no law denying the minority their rights to free exercise of religion, freedom of speech, peaceful assembly, the right to bear arms, and other “unalienable” rights.

These limitations on majority rule are the essence of a republic, and they also are at the core of the ideology called individualism. And so here is another major difference between these two concepts: collectivism on the one hand, supporting any government action so long as it can be said to be for the greater good of the greater number; and individualism on the other hand, defending the rights of the minority against the passions and greed of the majority.

The fourth concept that divides collectivism from individualism has to do with responsibilities and freedom of choice. We have spoken about the origin of rights, but there is a similar issue involving the origin of responsibilities. Rights and responsibilities go together. If you value the right to live your own life without others telling you what to do, then you must assume the responsibility to be independent, to provide for yourself without expecting others to take care of you. Rights and responsibilities are merely different sides of the same coin.

If only individuals have rights, then it follows that only individuals have responsibilities. If groups have rights, then groups also have responsibilities; and, therein, lies one of the greatest ideological challenges of our modern age.

Individualists are champions of individual rights. Therefore, they accept the principle of individual responsibility rather than group responsibility. They believe that everyone has a personal and direct obligation to provide, first for himself and his family, and then for others who may be in need. That does not mean they don’t believe in helping each other. Just because I am an individualists does not mean I have to move my piano alone. It just means that I believe that moving it is my responsibility, not someone else’s, and it’s up to me to organize the voluntary assistance of others.

The collectivist, on the other hand, declares that individuals are not personally responsible for charity, for raising their own children, providing for aging parents, or even providing for themselves, for that matter. These are group obligations of the state. The individualist expects to do it himself; the collectivist wants the government to do it for him: to provide employment and health care, a minimum wage, food, education, and a decent place to live. Collectivists are enamored by government. They worship government. They have a fixation on government as the ultimate group mechanism to solve all problems.

Individualists do not share that faith. They see government as the creator of more problems than it solves. They believe that freedom of choice will lead to the best solution of social and economic problems. Millions of ideas and efforts, each subject to trial and error and competition – in which the best solution becomes obvious by comparing its results to all others – that process will produce results that are far superior to what can be achieved by a group of politicians or a committee of so-called wise men.

By contrast, collectivists do not trust freedom. They are afraid of freedom. They are convinced that freedom may be all right in small matters such as what color socks you want to wear, but when it come to the important issues such as the money supply, banking practices, investments, insurance programs, health care, education, and so on, freedom will not work. These things, they say, simply must be controlled by the government. Otherwise there would be chaos.

There are two reasons for the popularity of that concept. One is that most of us have been educated in government schools, and that’s what we were taught. The other reason is that government is the one group that can legally force everyone to participate. It has the power of taxation, backed by jails and force of arms to compel everyone to fall in line, and that is a very appealing concept to the intellectual who pictures himself as a social engineer.

Collectivists say, “We must force people to do what we think they should do, because they are too dumb to do it on their own. We, on the other hand, have been to school. We’ve read books. We are informed. We are smarter than those people out there. If we leave it to them, they are going to make terrible mistakes. So, it is up to us, the enlightened ones. We shall decide on behalf of society and we shall enforce our decisions by law so no one has any choice. That we should rule in this fashion is our obligation to mankind.”

By contrast, individualists say, “We also think we are right and that the masses seldom do what we think they should do, but we don’t believe in forcing anyone to comply with our will because, if we grant that principle, then others, representing larger groups than our own, could compel us to act as they decree, and that would be the end of our freedom.”

One of the quickest ways to spot a collectivist is to see how he reacts to public problems. No matter what bothers him in his daily routine – whether it’s littering the highway, smoking in public, dressing indecently, sending out junk mail – you name it, his immediate response is; “There ought to be a law!” And, of course, the professionals in government who make a living from such laws are more than happy to cooperate. The consequence of this mindset is that government just keeps growing and growing. It’s a oneway street. Every year there are more and more laws and less and less freedom. Each law by itself seems relatively benign, justified by some convenience or for the greater good of the greater number, but the process continues forever until government is total and freedom is dead. Bit-by-bit, the people, themselves, become the solicitor of their own enslavement.

A good example of this collectivist mindset is the use of government to perform acts of charity. Most people believe that we all have a responsibility to help others in need if we can, but what about those who disagree, those who couldn’t care less about the needs of others? Should they be allowed to be selfish while we are so generous? The collectivist sees people like that as justification for the use of coercion, because the cause is so worthy. He sees himself as a modern Robin Hood, stealing from the rich but giving to the poor. Of course, not all of it gets to the poor. After all, Robin and his men have to eat and drink and be merry, and that doesn’t come cheap. It takes a giant bureaucracy to administer a public charity, and the Robbing Hoods in government have become accustomed to a huge share of the loot, while the peasants – well, they’re grateful for whatever they get. They don’t care how much is consumed along the way. It was all stolen from someone else anyway.

The so-called charity of collectivism is a perversion of the Biblical story of the Good Samaritan who stopped along the highway to help a stranger who had been robbed and beaten. He even takes the victim to an inn and pays for his stay there until he recovers. Everyone approves of such acts of compassion and charity, but what would we think if the Samaritan had pointed his sword at the next traveler and threatened to kill him if he didn’t also help? If that had happened, I doubt if the story would have made it into the Bible; because, at that point, the Samaritan would be no different than the original robber – who also might have had a virtuous motive. For all we know, he could have claimed that he was merely providing for his family and feeding his children. Most crimes are rationalized in this fashion, but they are crimes nevertheless. When coercion enters, charity leaves.5

Individualists refuse to play this game. We expect everyone to be charitable, but we also believe that a person should be free not to be charitable if he doesn’t want to. If he prefers to give to a different charity than the one we urge on him, if he prefers to give a smaller amount that what we think he should, or if he prefers not to give at all, we believe that we have no right to force him to our will. We may try to persuade him to do so; we may appeal to his conscience; and especially we may show the way by our own good example; but we reject any attempt to gang up on him, either by physically restraining him while we remove the money from his pockets or by using the ballot box to pass laws that will take his money through taxation. In either case, the principle is the same. It’s called stealing.

Collectivists would have you believe that individualism is merely another word for selfishness, because individualists oppose welfare and other forms of coercive redistribution of wealth, but just the opposite is true. Individualists advocate true charity, which is the voluntary giving of their own money, while collectivists advocate the coercive giving of other people’s money; which, of course, is why it is so popular.

One more example: The collectivist will say, “I think everyone should wear seatbelts. That just makes sense. People can be hurt if they don’t wear seatbelts. So, let’s pass a law and require everyone to wear them. If they don’t, we’ll put those dummies in jail.” The individualist says, “I think everyone should wear seatbelts. People can be hurt in accidents if they don’t wear them, but I don’t believe in forcing anyone to do so. I believe in convincing them with logic and persuasion and good example, if I can, but I also believe in freedom of choice.”

One of the most popular slogans of Marxism is: “From each according to his ability, to each according to his need.” That’s the cornerstone of theoretical socialism, and it is a very appealing concept. A person hearing that slogan for the first time might say: “What’s wrong with that? Isn’t that the essence of charity and compassion toward those in need? What could possibly be wrong with giving according to your ability to others according to their need?” And the answer is, nothing is wrong with it – as far as it goes, but it is an incomplete concept. The unanswered question is how is this to be accomplished? Shall it be in freedom or through coercion? I mentioned earlier that collectivists and individualists usually agree on objectives but disagree over means, and this is a classic example. The collectivist says, take it by force of law. The individualist says, give it through free will. The collectivist says, not enough people will respond unless they are forced. The individualist says, enough people will respond to achieve the task. Besides, the preservation of freedom is also important. The collectivist advocates legalized plunder in the name of a worthy cause, believing that the end justifies the means. The individualist advocates free will and true charity, believing that the worthy objective does not justify committing theft and surrendering freedom.

There is a story of a Bolshevik revolutionary who was standing on a soapbox speaking to a small crowd in Times Square. After describing the glories of socialism and communism, he said: “Come the revolution and everyone will eat peaches and cream.” A little old man at the back of the crown yelled out: “I don’t like peaches and cream.” The Bolshevik thought about that for a moment and then replied: “Come the revolution, comrade, you will like peaches and cream.”

This, then, is the fourth difference between collectivism and individualism, and it is perhaps the most fundamental of them all: collectivists believe in coercion; individualists believe in freedom.

The fifth concept that divides collectivism from individualism has to do with the way people are treated under the law. Individualists believe that no two people are exactly alike, and each one is superior or inferior to others in many ways but, under law, they should all be treated equally. Collectivists believe that the law should treat people unequally in order to bring about desirable changes in society. They view the world as tragically imperfect. They see poverty and suffering and injustice and they conclude that something must be done to alter the forces that have produced these effects. They think of themselves as social engineers who have the wisdom to restructure society to a more humane and logical order. To do this, they must intervene in the affairs of men at all levels and redirect their activities according to a master plan. That means they must redistribute wealth and use the police power of the state to enforce prescribed behavior.

The consequence of this mindset can be seen everywhere in society today. Almost every country in the world has a tax system designed to treat people unequally depending on their income, their marital status, the number of children they have, their age, and the type of investments they may have. The purpose of this arrangement is to redistribute wealth, which means to favor some classes over others. In some cases, there are bizarre loopholes written into the tax laws just to favor one corporation or one politically influential group. Other laws provide tax-exemption and subsidies to favored groups or corporations. Inequality is the whole purpose of these laws.

In the realm of social relationships, there are laws to establish racial quotas, gender quotas, affirmative-action initiatives, and to prohibit expressions of opinion that may be objectionable to some group or to the master planners. In all of these measures, there is an unequal application of the law based on what group or class you happen to be in or on what opinion you hold. We are told that all of this is necessary to accomplish a desirable change in society. Yet, after more than a hundred years of social engineering, there is not one place on the globe where collectivists can point with pride and show where their master plan has actually worked as they predicted. There have been many books written about the collectivist utopia, but they never happened. The real-world results wherever collectivism has been applied are more poverty than before, more suffering than before, and certainly more injustice than before.

There is a better way. Individualism is based on the premise that all citizens should be equal under law, regardless of their national origin, race, religion, gender, education, economic status, life style, or political opinion. No class should be given preferential treatment, regardless of the merit or popularity of its cause. To favor one class over another is not equality under law.

When all of these factors are considered together, we come to the sixth ideological division between collectivism and individualism. Collectivists believe that the proper role of government should be positive, that the state should take the initiative in all aspects of the affairs of men, that it should be aggressive, lead, and provide. It should be the great organizer of society.

Individualists believe that the proper function of government is negative and defensive. It is to protect, not to provide; for if the state is granted the power to provide for some, it must also be able to take from others, and once that power is granted, there are those who will seek it for their advantage. It always leads to legalized plunder and loss of freedom. If government is powerful enough to give us everything we want, it is also powerful enough to take from us everything we have. Therefore, the proper function of government is to protect the lives, liberty, and property of its citizens; nothing more.6

We hear a lot today about right-wingers versus left-wingers, but what do those terms really mean? For example, we are told that communists and socialists are at the extreme left, and the Nazis and Fascists are on the extreme right. Here we have the image of two powerful ideological adversaries pitted against each other, and the impression is that, somehow, they are opposites. But, what is the difference? They are not opposites at all. They are the same. The insignias may be different, but when you analyze communism and Nazism, they both embody the principles of socialism. Communists make no bones about socialism being their ideal, and the Nazi movement in Germany was actually called the National Socialist Party. Communists believe in international socialism, whereas Nazis advocate national socialism. Communists promote class hatred and class conflict to motivate the loyalty and blind obedience of their followers, whereas the Nazis use race conflict and race hatred to accomplish the same objective. Other than that, there is no difference between communism and Nazism. They are both the epitome of collectivism, and yet we are told they are, supposedly, at opposite ends of the spectrum!

There’s only one thing that makes sense in constructing a political spectrum and that is to put zero government at one end of the line and 100% at the other. Now we have something we can comprehend. Those who believe in zero government are the anarchists, and those who believe in total government are the totalitarians. With that definition, we find that communism and Nazism are together at the same end. They are both totalitarian. Why? Because they are both based on the model of collectivism. Communism, Nazism, Fascism and socialism all gravitate toward bigger and bigger government, because that is the logical extension of their common ideology. Under collectivism, all problems are the responsibility of the state and must be solved by the state. The more problems there are, the more powerful the state must become. Once you get on that slippery slope, there is no place to stop until you reach all the way to the end of the scale, which is total government. Regardless of what name you give it, regardless of how you re-label it to make it seem new or different, collectivism is totalitarianism.

Actually, the straight-line concept of a political spectrum is somewhat misleading. It is really a circle. You can take that straight line with 100% government at one end and zero at the other, bend it around, and touch the ends at the top. Now it’s a circle because, under anarchy, where there is no government, you have absolute rule by those with the biggest fists and the most powerful weapons. So, you jump from zero government to totalitarianism in a flash. They meet at the top. We are really dealing with a circle, and the only logical place for us to be is somewhere in the middle of the extremes. We need government, of course, but, it must be built on individualism, an ideology that pushes always toward that part of the spectrum that involves the least government necessary to make things work instead of collectivism, which always pushes toward the other end of the spectrum for the most amount of government to make things work. That government is best which governs least.

Now, we are finally ready to re-activate our time machine. The last images still linger before us. We still see the directors of the great tax-exempt foundations applying their vast financial resources to alter the attitudes of the American people so they will accept the merger of their nation with totalitarian regimes; and we still hear their words proclaiming that “the future of this country belongs to collectivism, administered with characteristic American efficiency.” It’s amazing, isn’t it, how much is contained in that one little word: collectivism.

The Chasm

The Future Is Calling (Part One)
G. Edward Griffin

How can anyone make the War on Terrorism easy to understand? There are so many issues and so much confusion. I feel like the proverbial mosquito in a nudist camp. I know what I have to do. I just don’t know where to begin. There is a well-known rule in public speaking that applies to complex topics. It is: First, tell them what you’re going to tell them. Then tell them. And, finally, tell them what you told them. I’m going to follow that rule today, and I will begin by making a statement that I have carefully crafted to be as shocking as possible. That’s primarily because I want you to remember it. When I tell you what I’m going to tell you, I know that, for many of you, it will sound absurd, and you’ll think I have gone completely out of my mind. Then, for the main body of my presentation, I will tell you what I told you by presenting facts to prove that everything I said actually is true. And, finally, at the end, I will tell you what I told you by repeating my opening statement; and, by then, hopefully, it will no longer seem absurd. What I am going to tell you is this: Although it is commonly believed that the War on Terrorism is a noble effort to defend freedom, in reality, it has little to do with terrorism and even less to do with the defense of freedom. There are other agendas at work; agendas that are far less praiseworthy; agendas that, in fact, are just the opposite of what we are told. The purpose of this presentation is to prove that, what is unfolding today is, not a war on terrorism to defend freedom, but a war on freedom that requires the defense of terrorism. That is what I’m going to tell you today, and you are probably wondering how anyone in his right mind could think he could prove such a statement as that. So let’s get right to it; and the first thing we must do is confront the word proof. What is proof? There is no such thing as absolute proof. There is only evidence. Proof may be defined as sufficient evidence to convince the observer that a particular hypothesis is true. The same evidence that is convincing to one person may not convince another. In that event, the case is proved to the first person but not to the second one who still needs more evidence. So, when we speak of proof, we are really talking about evidence.

It’s my intent to tell you what I told you by developing the case slowly and methodically; to show motive and opportunity; to introduce eyewitnesses and the testimony of experts. In other words, I will provide evidence – upon evidence – upon evidence until the mountain is so high that even the most reluctant skeptic must conclude that the case has been proved.

Where do we find this evidence? The first place to look is in history. The past is the key to the present, and we can never fully understand where we are today unless we know what path we traveled to get here. It was Will Durant who said: “Those who know nothing about history are doomed forever to repeat it.”

Are we doomed to repeat history in the war on terrorism? If we continue to follow the circular path we are now taking, I believe that we are. But to find out if that is true, we need to go back in time. So, I invite you to join me, now, in my time machine. We are going to splash around in history for a while and look at some great events and huge mistakes to see if there are parallels, any lessons to be learned for today. I must warn you: it will seem that we are lost in time. We are going to go here and there, and then jump back further, and then forward in time, and we will be examining issues that may make you wonder “What on earth has this to do with today?” But I can assure you, when we reach the end of our journey, you will see that everything we cover has a direct relevance to today and, in particular, to the war on terrorism.

Now that we are in our time machine, we turn the dial to the year 1954 and, suddenly, we find ourselves in the plush offices of the Ford Foundation in New York City. There are two men seated at a large, Mahogany desk, and they are talking. They cannot see or hear us, but we can see them very well. One of these men is Roland Gaither, who was the President of the Ford Foundation at that time. The other is Mr. Norman Dodd, the chief investigator for what was called the Congressional Committee to Investigate Tax Exempt Foundations. The Ford Foundation was one of those, so he is there as part of his Congressional responsibilities. I must tell you that it was in 1982 that I met Mr. Dodd in his home state of Virginia where, at the time, I had a television crew gathering interviews for a documentary film. I had previously read Mr. Dodd’s testimony and realized how important it was; so, when our crew had open time, I called him on the telephone and asked if he would be willing to make a statement before our cameras, and he said, “Of course.” I’m glad we obtained the interview when we did, because Dodd was advanced in years, and it wasn’t long afterward that he passed away. We were very fortunate to capture his story in his own words. What we now are witnessing from our time machine was confirmed in minute detail twenty years later and preserved on video.

In any event, we are now in the year 1954, and we hear Mr. Gaither say to Mr. Dodd, “Would you be interested in knowing what we do here at the Ford Foundation?” And Mr. Dodd says, “Yes! That’s exactly why I’m here. I would be very interested, sir.” Then, without any prodding at all, Gaither says, “Mr. Dodd, we operate in response to directives, the substance of which is that we shall use our grant making power to alter life in the United States so that it can be comfortably merged with the Soviet Union.” Dodd almost falls off of his chair when he hears that. Then he says to Gaither, “Well, sir, you can do anything you please with your grant making powers, but don’t you think you have an obligation to make a disclosure to the American people? You enjoy tax exemption, which means you are indirectly subsidized by taxpayers, so, why don’t you tell the Congress and the American people what you just told me?” And Gaither replies, “We would never dream of doing such a thing.”

The question that arises in Mr. Dodd’s mind is: How would it be possible for anyone to think that they could alter life in the United States so it could be comfortably merged with the Soviet Union and, by implication, with other nations of the world? What an absurd thought that would be – especially in 1954. That would require the abandonment of American concepts of justice, traditions of liberty, national sovereignty, cultural identity, constitutional protections, and political independence, to name just a few. Yet, these men were deadly serious about it. They were not focused on the question of if this could be done. Their only question was how to do it? What would it take to change American attitudes? What would it take to convince them to abandon their heritage in exchange for global union?

The answer was provided by another powerful and prestigious tax-exempt foundation, the Carnegie Endowment Fund for International Peace. When Dodd visited that organization and began asking about their activities, the President said, “Mr. Dodd, you have a lot of questions. It would be very tedious and time consuming for us to answer them all, so I have a counter proposal. Why don’t you send a member of your staff to our facilities, and we will open our minute books from the very first meeting of the Carnegie Fund, and your staff can go through them and copy whatever you find there. Then you will know everything we are doing.”

Again, Mr. Dodd was totally amazed. He observed that the President was a young man and probably had never actually read the minutes himself. So Dodd accepted the offer and sent a member of his staff to the Carnegie Endowment facilities. Her name was Mrs. Catherine Casey who, by the way, was hostile to the activity of the Congressional Committee. Political opponents of the Committee had placed her on the staff to be a watchdog and a damper on the operation. Her attitude was: “What could possibly be wrong with tax-exempt foundations? They do so much good.” So, that was the view of Mrs. Casey when she went to the boardroom of the Carnegie Foundation. She took her Dictaphone machine with her (they used magnetic belts in those days) and recorded, word for word, many of the key passages from the minutes of this organization, starting with the very first meeting. What she found was so shocking, Mr. Dodd said she almost lost her mind. She became ineffective in her work after that and had to be given another assignment.

This is what those minutes revealed: From the very beginning, the members of the board discussed how to alter life in the United States; how to change the attitudes of Americans to give up their traditional principles and concepts of government and be more receptive to what they call the collectivist model of society. I will talk more about what the word collectivist means in a moment, but those who wrote the documents we will be quoting use that word often and they have a clear understanding of what it means. At the Carnegie Foundation board meetings, they discussed this question in a very scholarly fashion. After many months of deliberation, they came to the conclusion that, out of all of the options available for altering political and social attitudes, there was only one that was historically dependable. That option was war. In times of war, they reasoned, only then would people be willing to give up things they cherish in return for the desperate need and desire for security against a deadly enemy. And so the Carnegie Endowment Fund for International Peace declared in its minutes that it must do whatever it can to bring the United States into war.

They also said there were other actions needed, and these were their exact words: “We must control education in the United States.” They realized that was a pretty big order, so they teamed up with the Rockefeller Foundation and the Guggenheim Foundation to pool their financial resources to control education in America – in particular, to control the teaching of history. They assigned those areas of responsibility that involved issues relating to domestic affairs to the Rockefeller Foundation, and those issues relating to international affairs were taken on as the responsibility of the Carnegie Endowment.

Their first goal was to rewrite the history books, and they discussed at great length how to do that. They approached some of the more prominent historians of the time and presented to them the proposal that they rewrite history to favor the concept of collectivism, but they were turned down flat. Then they decided – and, again, these are their own words, “We must create our own stable of historians.”

They selected twenty candidates at the university level who were seeking doctorates in American History. Then they went to the Guggenheim Foundation and said, “Would you grant fellowships to candidates selected by us, who are of the right frame of mind, those who see the value of collectivism as we do? Would you help them to obtain their doctorates so we can then propel them into positions of prominence and leadership in the academic world?” And the answer was “Yes.”

So they gathered a list of young men who were seeking their doctorate degrees. They interviewed them, analyzed their attitudes, and chose the twenty they thought were best suited for their purpose. They sent them to London for a briefing. (In a moment I will explain why London is so significant.) At this meeting, they were told what would be expected if and when they win the doctorates they were seeking. They were told they would have to view history, write history, and teach history from the perspective that collectivism was a positive force in the world and was the wave of the future.

Now lets go to the words of Mr. Dodd, himself, as he described this event before our cameras in 1982. He said:
This group of twenty historians eventually formed the nucleus of the American Historical Association. Then toward the end of the 1920’s the Endowment grants to the American Historical Association $400,000 [a huge amount of money in those days] for a study of history in a manner that points to what this country can look forward to in the future. That culminates in a seven-volume study, the last volume of which is a summary of the contents of the other six. And the essence of the last volume is, the future of this country belongs to collectivism, administered with characteristic American efficiency.
Now we must turn off our time machine for a few moments and deal with this word collectivism. You are going to hear it a lot. Especially if you delve into the historical papers of the individuals and groups we are discussing, you will find them using that word over and over. Although most people have only a vague concept of what it means, the advocates of collectivism have a very clear understanding of it, so lets deal with that now.


The Muslim Issue Emerges
"Ten years ago Europe's problems with its large Muslim immigration were already emerging. The Europeans complained frequently to us that they were paying a price for Israel's attitude toward the Palestinians. They claimed that the negative tendencies among the Muslim communities in Europe were fed by their frustration over how the Palestinians were being treated.

"They said that if Israel would treat the Palestinians differently European Muslims would be less hostile and Europe would benefit. They never told us this story directly but dressed it up in a different way. They said that Europe had a stake in Israeli-Palestinian issues because some Muslims were European citizens. Thus the EU was representing the sentiments and aspirations of these citizens in expressing the hope that Israel would take a different position in the conflict.

"I replied that they should face up to the real problems with Muslims in their countries. When I was stationed in Brussels there were growing signs that the approach of many Muslims in Europe was changing. Up to the mid-1990s, most tried to become fully identified with the culture and society of the countries they lived in. They wanted to be more French than the French, or more Dutch than the Dutch.

"In the mid-1990s there was a shift toward a more separate religious identity. Many Muslims maintained their religious approach opposing the secularism of European society. I said to my European counterparts that these were growing manifestations of separatism. They answered that this was an internal European issue and none of my business.

"It was one more among many examples of European double standards. When convenient, they used the same argument in order to get a stake in what was happening in the Middle East. When it was turned against them, they adopted a different stance. This attitude caused frequent displeasure on their part and frustration on mine. They did not want to listen to what was obvious and for which they are now paying a heavy price. I wasn't too keen to press the point endlessly as my mission in Brussels was not to educate Europeans."

European Integration and Individual Approaches
"Despite the integration of Europe, every country has its own attitude toward most matters. Their national identities, cultures, and approaches to life differ. So do their financial, judicial, and social systems. Each country has its own army. On the legal side there has been an attempt to harmonize many fiscal aspects and laws that relate to customs and commercial issues, yet there was no attempt to try and harmonize criminal law.

"The only truly harmonized issues concern human rights. The Human Rights Act is a European act. This now has become a problem because in Britain, for instance, it has become a barrier against some steps to combat terrorism.

"This lack of a unified approach has made it impossible to develop a common European policy on the issue of Islam. Each country wanted to maintain its particular approach thinking it was better than that of its neighbors."

Halevy indicates that in retrospect the Europeans would have done better to take a common approach to this matter rather than trying to create an appearance of a common European foreign and defense policy. "This concept is a misrepresentation because no common policy exists on many foreign issues. There are big differences, for instance, between the French and British on problems such as Iraq, Iran, or even the Arab-Israeli conflict.

"Furthermore, one cannot maintain a common foreign policy on issues relating to Islam if in Europe there is no common domestic policy toward these. The Europeans, however, developed a logic of creating a common denominator between the absurdities of their domestic policies and the pretensions of their foreign policy. That is how I saw it then and how I continue to see it now.

"During my stay in Brussels the European Commission was weak. It was headed by Jacques Santer from Luxembourg, who was both pleasant and feeble. In the end his commission was deposed. Over the years one country was consistently pro-Israeli. The German government of Chancellor Helmut Kohl was very positive toward us, and so were his various foreign ministers such as Hans-Dietrich Genscher and Klaus Kinkel.

"France's role was highly negative. The French government was not only highly critical of Netanyahu. It also treated his successor Ehud Barak very badly. At each meeting of the Council of Ministers they were the most extreme actor against Israel. Almost all officials at the Quai d'Orsay, their foreign ministry, were negative toward Israel. Our ambassador in Paris made many efforts to change the situation but did not succeed. Hubert Védrine, the foreign minister in the socialist Jospin government, was an outspoken anti-Israeli and so was his right-wing predecessor."

"Coreper (Comité des Représentants Permanents) is a key organ in the European Union. It is composed of the ambassadors of all EU member states. The German ambassador was very helpful to us and so was the ambassador of Great Britain. At the time the Dutch ambassador was Bernard Bot, the current Dutch foreign minister. He might occasionally make unpleasant remarks about us but in practical matters he was very helpful.

"On the other hand, the French representative in COREPER was outright hostile. Ambassador Pierre de Boissieu is a grandson of de Gaulle and a very arrogant man. When I arrived in Brussels he refused to meet me. He said he did not have to and did not want to waste time on ambassadors from outside the EU.

"Javier Solana, a former Spanish socialist foreign minister is the current EU high representative for foreign relations. At the time he was the secretary-general of NATO. He could be critical of Israel but this should not be confused with him being anti-Israeli. He is a nonconfrontational person who always looks for compromises, diplomatic solutions, and bridging positions. I think in his heart he has a great admiration for Israel's capabilities and progress. His policy was to avert a situation in which relations between Europe and the Palestinians would deteriorate beyond what he thought was good for the Europeans. Therefore, he continued to maintain a relationship with Arafat long after it was clear that he was promoting terrorism.

"It is to Solana's credit that when, in 2002, Israel came up with the idea of changing the constitution of the Palestinian Authority, he helped us move it forward. The concept was to empower the prime minister and to turn Arafat into a figurehead. Nowadays, with Hamas in power, we are interested in the opposite, strengthening the president(?), Mahmoud Abbas against the prime minister. Solana has also been helpful in arranging orderly elections in the Palestinian territories and providing monitors and observers."

Europe's Major Mistakes
When asked about the major mistakes Europe made in the Middle East over the past ten years, Halevy replies: "The first one was their political assessment of Arafat. Without the EU he would not have had a financial basis for his administration. This led to their second mistake. The EU approach facilitated corruption inside the Palestinian Authority. The way they channeled their money was both a major waste and an important source of corruption.

"The third EU mistake was that they thought they could lean on Israel. They were subtly threatening economic sanctions and thought that this would push Israel. It caused some concern in Jerusalem but mainly created a bad atmosphere between us. The Europeans thought that by making these efforts they were ingratiating themselves with the Arab world. It was, however, a major miscalculation to think that the Syrians, Egyptians, Jordanians, and others would become Europhiles as a result. Nothing of this kind happened.

"Ten years ago many Europeans had a great ambition to be close to Syria despite the fact that it was a cruel dictatorship. There was great friendship between Syrian president Hafez Assad and German chancellor Kohl. Assad also had close relations with many people around Kohl.

"French president Chirac admired Assad and many other prominent Europeans had a lot of respect or sympathy for him as a person. Every time Israel had a problem with Syria, the French were very sensitive that we did nothing to destabilize Syria or damage its interests. The fact that Assad was a mass murderer who had killed tens of thousands of Syrian civilians was not something that troubled the European leaders at all."

This leads to the final question, whether Europe is behaving differently now.

Halevy replies: "I think the Europeans are more mature in their assessment of the Palestinians. They don't try to exert economic pressure on Israel. They don't allow their monies to be used in the same way as before. They are less pretentious about their political role in the Middle East. The Europeans increasingly recognize the American supremacy and do not try to upstage it too much. It now remains to be seen if Europe will move to leverage its major role in the multinational force in Lebanon into playing a more active and significant part in forging a peaceful future for the war-torn nations of the Middle East."

1 Efraim Halevy, Man in the Shadows (New York: St. Martin's Press, 2006), 128.
2 Ibid., 126.

Efraim Halevy is a former head of the Mossad. From 1996 to 1998 he was Israeli ambassador to the European Union in Brussels.


by Efraim Halevy
This account comes from Manfred Gerstenfeld's book: European-Israeli Relations: Between Confusion and Change?

"For a very long time the Europeans' weakness has been that so often somebody else has to solve their problems. Frequently the United States has had to do so. Yugoslavia and Iraq have been cases in point. It is possible that this will now change as European nations make major contributions to the multinational force that is being deployed on the southern borders of Lebanon after the Second Lebanon War of summer 2006."

Efraim Halevy is a former head of the Mossad. From 1996 to 1998 he was Israeli ambassador to the European Union in Brussels. The conversation with him takes place on 18 July 2006 while Israel's war with Hizballah in Lebanon rages (updating was added subsequently). He remarks: "A few days ago, I was in Frankfurt at a meeting where I met Benita Ferrero Waldner, Austria's former foreign minister who is now the EU commissioner for external affairs.

"She was very busy with the question of what Europe could do concerning Lebanon. Would it intervene? Would it do something? Could it do anything? An EU official participated in the meeting. He heads a department inside External Affairs, in charge of Israel and the Middle East. He was all the time occupied on the telephone trying to work out whether Javier Solana, the EU high representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy would come to the Middle East and who would be the members of the delegation accompanying him."

Europe's Actions: At Best an Irritant
Halevy considers all this of little importance. "Europe's actions during the hostilities have had little or no impact on events as they unfold. At best so far, the EU has been an irritant in the Middle East conflict. It cannot help in the battle with Hizballah, which is a proxy fight with Iran.

"Israel is fighting Iran where it is vulnerable. If Israel succeeds in greatly weakening Hizballah and severely harming its capacity to fire missiles this will be a major setback for Iran's prestige in the region. Iran, for its own reasons, cannot come to the support of Hizballah whom they supplied with weaponry. It has threatened Israel not to attack Syria but has not come to the support of Hizballah after Israel massively attacked it. All groups who consider themselves clients of Iran must now conclude: 'The Iranians will not come and save a client in trouble.' This is one major aspect of the battle in Lebanon.

"When all is over, if Israel had succeeded, the Europeans would have applauded it. If Israel had failed the Europeans would have condemned it. That is the way they have always played it. Had Israel totally destroyed Hizballah, it would have removed a major threat to Lebanese democracy in which the EU has invested. That would have helped Lebanon implement Security Council Resolution 1559, which called for the Lebanese government to have full control of its territory. Had we removed Hizballah's threat of instability in the region, that would have helped the EU when moving to rebuild Lebanon for a second time. The job would then have been done by Israel. The Europeans should have done this themselves when they invested in Lebanon. Once again somebody else had to solve the problem."

Reminiscing about 1996
Many current European reactions to Israel's battle with Hizballah remind Halevy of the time he was ambassador to the EU. "I came to Brussels in January 1996. A few months later Benjamin Netanyahu became prime minister. His election was the result of the many terror attacks at the end of 1995 and beginning of 1996. Netanyahu became prime minister at a time when the confrontation with the Palestinians became a very serious issue. Netanyahu said he would accept the Oslo Agreement, but also followed a different policy than his predecessors toward the Palestinians."

Halevy says that personal aspects also played a role. "The Europeans had been used to Shimon Peres. He considered himself their great friend and was much influenced by their flattery. I have hinted at this also in my recent book Man in the Shadows. This explains in part why the Europeans disliked the change in government.

"Within a short time, the policies of the Israeli government became rather unacceptable to the EU. Israel, after the many terror incidents, began taking steps to restrict the Palestinian movements and deprive them of certain of their facilities. When Ehud Olmert, then mayor of Jerusalem, opened a tunnel outside the Temple Mount, there was Palestinian violence that ultimately caused loss of life on both the Palestinian and Israeli sides."

Every Month a Resolution
"Every month the EU Council of Foreign Ministers meets in Brussels. In almost each meeting during that period it passed a resolution censuring Israel for one thing or another. In the EU this was a monthly process: the draft resolution started at a low level. It went up to a medium level and from there to the director-general level. Then it was sent to the European capitals and finally it was approved at the Council of Foreign Ministers. One might call this an EU ritual. The entire month before the next resolution was approved Israeli diplomats throughout Europe were busy trying to prevent, soften, or amend it.

"In retrospect, all this was ridiculous because none of these resolutions had any importance. The same is true regarding the EU resolution adopted a few days ago in Brussels on the crisis in Lebanon. The G8 met in St. Petersburg from 15-17 July. There policy was decided, and not in Brussels or anywhere else.

"Israeli-European relations during my time were complicated. A few weeks after Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin's assassination, Israel signed a new economic association agreement with the EU. A second agreement concerned Israel joining the fourth European Research and Development program. For Israel to become a member of this, the agreement had to be approved by the European Parliament and by the parliaments of all fifteen member states. This approval came up when Netanyahu was already prime minister. Many in the EU thought this an opportunity to use leverage against Israel concerning its policies in the territories. For Israel this posed a major problem."

Approval by the European Parliament
"The European Parliament is chosen in various ways by the electorates in member countries. In the parliament itself, factions are composed on a Europe-wide ideological basis. There were five of these at the time, including conservatives, liberal democrats, and socialists. It was my task to get the parliament to approve the agreement while a significant number of its members had a very negative attitude toward Israel in general.

"Several MEPs also specifically disliked Jews. Without going into detail, some Germans among the Free Democrats had a very problematic World War II past. There were Belgian MEPs from the extreme right-wing Vlaams Blok. One had been an active officer in a Belgian unit that fought together with the Nazis. Some French MEPs belonged to Le Pen's Front National. Several left-wing socialists had little love for Israel or Jews. There were also some British diehard anti-Jewish conservatives. Most were polite to me but I knew what their real feelings were.

"This major task ended successfully. The European Parliament, surprisingly, passed the European Research and Development program with 265 votes in favor and 4 against. Almost half the approximately five hundred MEPs did not attend the meeting. Thereafter the agreement had to be approved by all national parliaments. This took some time, but also there it passed. For Israel this was a major achievement.

"The Europeans fully realized that this agreement was also advantageous to them. First, Israel had to contribute a significant amount of money annually. Even more important, however, Israeli technology and science are of interest to the Europeans. When Europeans have a practical material interest, their ideological considerations become secondary. This is normal and natural."

Europe's Role in the Middle East Conflict
"A second problematic issue at the time concerned the European attitude toward the Palestinians and the European role in our conflict with them. They were a major financial contributor to the Palestinian Authority. Yet politically they had no clout. They thought that since they contributed so much money they should also have a say in what was happening politically. Israel rejected this.

"Manuel Marin, then vice-president of the European Commission was the key European actor involved. He is now chairman of the Spanish parliament on behalf of the ruling Socialist Party and previously had been Spanish foreign minister. Marin said he was much in favor of peace, and was very critical of Israeli policies. He complained all the time that the EU was paying and didn't get political recognition for this.

"The EU was also, however, paying the Palestinian Authority in a less than straightforward way. They channeled part of the funds semilegally. Some money went directly into Yasser Arafat's bank accounts. Once I was meeting Marin when he got a call from the German foreign minister who complained that $25 million, which Arafat got as 'special emergency funding,' had been transferred to the wrong account. It went into the general account and should have gone into his private one."

Halevy describes this in his book: "The commissioner asked the minister for a few minutes' pause and then turned to me and politely asked me to excuse him because he had to attend to the matter at hand. I left, of course, but not before my host had unburdened himself and had expressed his exasperation at the way he was being forced to cooperate in these matters."[1]

Double Standards
"A few years later this matter became a point of discussion in the European Parliament as it became clear that some EU money was being abused. For political reasons the European Parliament decided to hide the real nature of what was happening and prevent a full-scale investigation into this diversion of funds. It voted for a fuzzy form of investigation so that it would not become a major political issue.

"In other words, the Europeans -- the parliament and the commission -- once again applied double standards to Israel. Toward us they were moralizing. When it came to the Palestinians as far as finance and politics were concerned, they were 'very understanding,' to put it in diplomatic language, of the special considerations of how Palestinians handle money.

"Yet another aspect was the EU's desire to become involved in Israeli-Palestinian political relations. When there were major confrontations they immediately tried to move in and advance various proposals to 'bring the sides together.'

"One example was when in 1997 David Levy, then Israel's foreign minister, came to Brussels for a periodic meeting at a time there was a major crisis between us and the Palestinians. The Europeans raised the idea that Arafat should also visit so that they could bring the two sides together. Levy could not avoid the meeting.

"The Grand Duchy of Luxembourg then held the EU presidency. Its foreign minister, Jacques Poos, presided over what became a ridiculous meeting, out of which came nothing. For the Europeans the meeting was relevant even without any substance. I noticed many times that for the Europeans to appear as if they were a factor in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict was much more important than playing a real role."

Halevy describes in his book how Arafat fell asleep during Levy's speech. Nobody bothered to wake him up. Finally Nabil Sha'ath, the PA foreign minister, responded to Levy's words.[2]

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Friedman’s Middle East Rules #3


Rule 3: If you can’t explain something to Middle Easterners with a conspiracy theory, then don’t try to explain it at all ­ they won’t believe it.

I’ve repeatedly discussed the prominence of conspiracy theory in the Arab world as both a function of a) explaining away humiliation and impotence (3 million Israelis didn’t defeat 300 million Arabs, America did it), and b) projecting ill-will. This latter, more fundamental mechanism operates according to the basic rules of prime-divider society: since everyone works according to the political axiom “rule or be ruled,” no one can make a generous offer that he really means. It must be a ruse. Ditto with any “positive-sum” solution. As Arafat said about Camp David: “It was a trap.” And from his zero-sum universe, where any Israeli “win” is a loss for the Arabs, it was indeed a trap.

A remarkably self-critical post by the Jordanian blogger Omar, illustrates one aspect of this tendency to assume conspiratorial motives behind all action. He writes:

Arabs often see themselves as being more aware than others in what matters politics, they like to think of themselves as not being fooled like other nations and that they know why everything happens. In general, they have this thought of that most people around the globe are being fooled either by their governments or by their misleading media tools, while they (Arabs) are not.

What he means here — I think — is that Arabs assume people’s nasty motives: no one is in good faith; anytime someone claims altruistic motives, they are manipulating. Since all conspiracy theories are based on the assumption of (really vicious) malevolence on the “other side,” to see conspiracies everywhere is to assume malevolence in everyone. And as I’ve suggested, that paranoia often represents a projection of one’s own state of mind.

Hence, Westerners have the pitiful tendency to believe people who claim honest intent, and therefore, they are, to the Arab way of thinking, suckers. As a result, they can look down on us, as Omar describes here, for being so credulous. The irony of this self-perception (which, to his credit, Omar criticizes), is that to the Westerner, there is no example of a culture more credulous, more willing to believe the most outlandish nonsense than the Arabs. As Joanne commented:

Darwish has GOT to be kidding. Omar, too.

Arabs weren’t being fooled by their own media. By media that promote the Protocols of the Elders of Zion? By media that promote the blood libel, that say that Israel tried to make Arabs infertile with poisoned chewing gum and that Israel is developing a special bomb that targets Arab genes (!)?

Of course, the Arabs always know better. They were always more savvy. Unlike naïve Westerners, they KNOW that the Jews control the US and British governments. They KNOW that the US government caused 9/11. They KNOW that 4,000 Jews stayed home from Twin Towers on 9/11, having been warned away. They KNOW that the Jews control the Western media. They’re so savvy, they KNOW that the Jews want to extend Israel from the Nile to the Euphrates.

Add to that, the predictable accusations in the Muslim media that Israel and the United States are behind the Gaza meltdown. Cui bono? Who benefits? If the meltdown hurts the Palestinians and benefits the Americans and Israelis, they must have done it:

The political [policy] of the conspirators in Washington and Tel-Aviv, [aimed at] spreading destruction and undermining the unity of the Arab societies in these three countries, as well as in other [countries] that they are able to influence with the help of their agents within them - is termed ‘creative chaos’…Al-Thawra (Syria), June 18, 2007

Paradoxically, believing that everything stems from base motives (one definition of a cynic), actually makes people more susceptible to manipulation, more likely to believe nonsense as long as it’s phrased in ways that make sense. Hence Friedman’s deft formulation of the problem.

And, if I can reflect for a moment on the nature of the Israeli soul, we come to the great tragedy of the Arab-Israeli conflict. The Israelis, even the most hard-bitten and bitter, are almost to a person desirous of a peaceful solution that benefits everyone. The sabra (cactus pear), hard and prickly on the outside, soft and sweet on the inside, is not the Israeli term for a native born by accident. That’s why the Israeli peace camp is so large, varied, and Pavlovian in its desire to believe Palestinian good will in the hopes that things will go better, despite the overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

And yet, in the most colossal illustration of the Moebius Strip of cognitive egocentrism, nothing the Israelis do can penetrate the hermetically sealed mistrust of the shrewd Arabs. So rather than economic cooperation — which should solve terrorism, no? — the Arabs see chewing gum that causes sterility and shampoo that makes you bald.

And rather than outsiders who can intervene in this tragic cognitive deadlock that threatens mutual destruction, the “progressives” come in to show their “solidarity,” armed with their Post-colonial paradigm, and confirm every fevered detail of Arab paranoia.

Paradise Now

Tem coisas que ainda me surpreendem. Acho que sou muito inocente mesmo.

Ontem a peça de propaganda terrorista em forma de, vá lá, arte, foi ao ar em um dos canais telecine. É lamentável que algo tão sujo como esse filme que romantiza o terrorismo, desinforma e estimula o ódio passe em um dos canais das organizações Globo. Como se já não fosse o bastante o que a "cobertura jornalística" do grupo faz...

O filme é tudo o que existe de errado na cobertura do conflito. Ele faz uso de todos os clichês possíveis e imagináveis para tentar moldar a opinião dos espectadores e demonizar Israel - distorce/omite fatos cruciais, romantiza o terrorismo e o assassinato de civis, apela para a mentirosa narrativa do inocente Davi "palestino" contra o brutal e agressor Golias israelense e ainda justifica as atrocidades cometidas pelos árabes culpando a vítima israelense.
Até pensei em fazer um comentário mais longo sobre filme, mas achei que ia ficar muito repetitivo, já que o filme só confirma tudo o que eu acuso em grande parte das postagens marcadas como , , , , , e outros. Outro motivo é que, infelizmente, meu estômago não permitiu. Não me sinto tão ultrajado assim desde que vi o "documentário" ensaiado (de acordo com o próprio diretor) Jenin, Jenin.

Anti-Semistism Now
"Paradise Now": Anti-Semitic Movie Co-Financed by German Authorities
Paradise Now: Well Done Propaganda
Suicide Bombing “for a Higher Ideal”?: Germany’s Central Office for Political Education on “Paradise Now”
Propaganda Now
The "occupation" is the problem
Jihad Watch: The director of "Paradise Now" would be a suicide bomber

Friday, July 20, 2007

Os nojentos



A que outras palavras se pode recorrer para definir os gestos despudorados do velho Marco Aurélio Garcia (publico acima, de novo, o vídeo), assessor especial de Lula, e do ainda jovem Bruno Gaspar, assessor de Imprensa? Vejam aí: a maturidade não faz o decoro. Num, a idade foi acrescentando tolice, fatuidade, arrogância. No outro, a falta dela confere jactância, fanfarrice, prepotência. E o velho, ali, era o retrato bem-sucedido do moço. Marco Aurélio é Bruno quando maduro. Bruno é Marco Aurélio quando jovem. Essa gente é uma espécie.

O Brasil ainda chora quase 200 vítimas; enlutadas, as famílias anseiam, ao menos, pelos despojos de seus mortos, para que possam concluir suas respectivas tragédias, já que aqueles a quem amavam lhes foram arrancados, surrupiados, seqüestrados por um governo incompetente; que, quando não é só incompetente, consegue ser pior porque incompetente e corrupto. Corrupção e incompetência fartamente documentadas justamente na Infraero, especialmente na reforma do Aeroporto de Congonhas, mortalha de inocentes; picadeiros de palhaços da morte; valhacouto de assassinos.

O que tanto comemoravam aquelas duas tristes figuras? Quem Marco Aurélio achava que estava f_ _ _ _ _o? Quem estava sendo violado pelo sr. Bruno Gaspar? Quais eram seus inimigos imaginários que estavam ali sendo subjugados em seu festim patético? Por que tripudiavam, eufóricos, sobre 200 mortos, sobre histórias interrompidas, sobre famílias moralmente destruídas, que, a esta altura, não têm de seu nem os corpos para enterrar, carbonizados que foram na pira da incúria, da loucura, da irresponsabilidade, da prevaricação? Por que festejam estes vândalos? Qual foi a grande vitória que obtiveram? Quem o assessorzinho chama de “filho da puta”?

A resposta é simples e chegou a este blog na pena dos acólitos, da Al Qaeda eletrônica, dos esbirros menores da ditadura da corrupção, da incompetência e da vulgaridade. Para estas alimárias, a matéria de William Bonner, no Jornal Nacional, provando que a aeronave estava com um dos reversores desativado (e que enfrentara problema no dia anterior ao do acidente) livrava o governo de qualquer responsabilidade. Mais uma vez, a “mídia”, inimiga eterna de ditadores e, por que não?, dos petistas, seria, então, acusada de conspiração. Como se a informação não tivesse sido tornada pública pela própria mídia que se procurava execrar, ferrar, violar, subjugar, submeter, humilhar.

Feios! Sujos! Malvados!

Só que não prova nada! O reversor desativado lhes saiu pela culatra. Todos os técnicos, incluindo a voz oficial da Aeronáutica, sustentam que, em pista adequada, é perfeitamente possível aterrissar sem o reversor — de fato, sem os dois reversores. Ele pode ajudar a diminuir a velocidade de um avião, mas, deixam claríssimos os especialistas, naquela situação vivida pelo AirBus, teria sido inútil. Sabem o que isso significa? Que a hipótese de problema na pista, em vez de ter diminuído, aumentou. A reportagem do Jornal Nacional, não obstante, é muito importante: em sua entrevista coletiva, Marco Antonio Blogna, presidente da TAM, omitira tal dado. Disse que a aeronave estava em perfeitas condições. Poderiam até ser adequadas, mas perfeitas não eram. Também omitiu que a mesma aeronave quase saíra na pista no dia anterior ao acidente. A relação Infraero-empresas-Anac, vai ficando evidente a cada dia, não pode ser mais obscura, confusa, estranha. Sargento Garcia e o Tonto vibraram inutilmente.

Vocês leram; os posts estão nos arquivos. Desde a primeira hora do acidente, apontei a responsabilidade do governo, seja lá qual for a causa desta tragédia em particular. Tanto é, que Lula vai hoje à TV anunciar medidas. Os três órgãos que cuidam do setor são subordinados ao Executivo: Infraero, Anac e Ministério da Aeronáutica. Lembrem-se: quase uma hora depois do acidente, não se sabia que avião ardia em chamas, não se sabia o nº do vôo, não se sabia nada. Trata-se do maior acidente aéreo no mundo em cinco anos. Na história da aviação, é a primeira vez que um país registra dois casos tão graves em prazo tão curto: 10 meses. Não! Ocorre que este governo não suporta cobranças. Como fica claro num vídeo que postei ontem, Lula ainda espera que lhe sejamos gratos por cumprir tão mal as suas obrigações.

Desde o primeiro post sobre o caso, a Al Qaeda eletrônica tenta se infiltrar aqui. A acusação estúpida, maledicente, que segue o velho princípio de acusar os adversários dos vícios que “eles” têm, é que eu estaria contente com a tragédia. A cobrança política que fiz foi tachada de exploração da dor alheia; foi chamada de insensível. O lema passou a ser, então: “Vamos parar de politizar o acidente”. Revejam o vídeo de Marco Aurélio e de Bruno Gaspar. Agora respondam: quem, de fato, explora a tragédia? Quem se ocupa unicamente de sua dimensão política? Quem, com efeito, está mais preocupado com a imagem do governo do que com a dor das famílias dos mortos?

Marco Aurélio, o Dom Giovanni da ditadura do proletariado, e seu Leporello pegador, de crachá e camisa amarrotada, são mais indecorosos pelo que pensam do que pelos gestos obscenos que fazem. São o retrato de um governo mais interessado em achar uma desculpa do que uma resposta; mais interessado em se safar do juízo da opinião pública do que em resolver um problema. E poderia ser diferente? Garcia é um dos artífices de nossa política externa; foi o homem enviado por Lula à Venezuela, logo nos primeiros dias de seu primeiro mandato, para atestar a “democracia até em excesso” de Hugo Chávez. É o pensador por trás da aproximação de Lula com as ditaduras islâmicas. É, não custa lembrar, co-fundador, com o Apedeuta, do Foro de São Paulo, um ajuntamento de partidos e grupos de esquerda da América Latina em que as narcoguilheiras Farc têm assento. Presidiu o PT durante a crise do dossiê e foi um dos formuladores da tese de que se tratava, vejam só, de uma tentativa de golpe de Estado.

Tremores e desculpa
Marco Aurélio resolveu dar uma pequena entrevista se explicando, com seus óculos redondinhos, como a anunciar que atrás daquelas lentes mora um intelectual refinado. Nós vimos. Classificou as imagens de “clandestinas” e disse que, em público, não se comportaria daquela maneira. Falo já disso. Clandestinas? Ele estava no Palácio do Planalto, na sede do Poder Executivo. Talvez ignore, mas aquele é um espaço público, e ele podia ser visto próximo à janela. Ninguém invadiu a sua casa para flagrá-lo na intimidade. Muito ao contrário. O que ele esperava? Que o cinegrafista, vendo-o ali, desligasse por pudor a câmera? Talvez sim. Os indecorosos sempre esperam que os decorosos se intimidem. Contam com isso.

Mas estupenda e reveladora é sua afirmação de que jamais faria aquilo em público. Ora, todos sabemos, não é? A frase é um emblema. Existe o petismo público e existe o petismo de corredor; existe o petismo para a massa de néscios, e existe o petismo para os escolhidos; existe o petismo oficial, e existe o petismo não-contabilizado, paralelo, caixa dois. Estamos falando, afinal, desde sempre, de um esquerdista para quem, por definição, a moral está a serviço de um projeto. E, na trajetória da esquerda, nunca importou quantos poderiam ou precisariam morrer para que esse projeto se realizasse.

“A nossa moral e a deles”
Marco Aurélio não vem da banda do PT stalinista. Vem do trotskismo — e ele não se curou: ficou mais doente. Porque agora aderiu também à vida pançuda da burocracia estatal. Trotsky é autor de um célebre texto em que fala da “nossa moral [dos socialistas] e da deles [dos burgueses]” Saibam, leitores: tudo aquilo que reconhecemos como escrúpulo, decência, limite, individualidade, respeito ao outro, tudo isso não passa da moral burguesa, a ser descartada liminarmente em nome de uma outra moral, uma doutrina aberta que, supostamente, vai-se construindo na história, mas que, de fato, atende exclusivamente aos interesses do partido encarregado da revolução. No caso, a revolução possível: essa porcaria que o PT vem fazendo.

Para realizar seus objetivos, temos outros exemplos, essa gente já demonstrou não ter limites e não se intimidar jamais. Nas suas explicações, ao ajeitar os seus óculos redondinhos, Marco Aurélio tremia feito uma gelatina. Era alguém acostumado, como se viu, a gestos bastante eloqüentes nos bastidores obrigando-se a fingir uma civilidade que, com efeito, não tem. Pelo menos, vá lá, é um medalhão do partido. E aquele outro coitado? E o Robin ideológico do Batman pançudo do socialismo?

Acusam seus adversários daquilo que eles próprios fazem. Não! Eu não celebrei a morte de ninguém. Lamentei. Lamentei todas elas e uma em particular, a do deputado Julio Redecker (PSDB-RS), e já expus aqui os motivos. Ah, eles sim. Eles tentaram comemorar o que seria a vitória sobre os adversários. Na entrevista, Marco Aurélio teve o mau gosto adicional de citar os mortos, que seriam a causa original de sua indignação. Conversa! Ele julgou, junto com o seu “Menino Prodígio” rompedor, que a fatura estava liquidada. Para ele, Lula havia ganhado mais essa. Para ele, Lula havia derrotado os 200 mortos.

Mas não derrotou. Eles lhe pesam sobre os ombros, junto com os 154 do avião da Gol. Hoje o demiurgo fala. Embora “não tenha nada com isso”, vai anunciar medidas. Se não der um pé no traseiro do Batman Gorducho e do Robin matusquela, estará repetindo ele próprio o gesto de seus subordinados. E, aí, para todo o povo brasileiro. Nunca uma gente tão baixa chegou tão alto. E, por isso, morremos assim: esturricados na fogueira de sua incompetência.

E saibam: eles sempre podem ir um pouco mais longe.

E Lula queria que os paulistas fossem gratos a ele por Congonhas...

Aqui, há dois vídeos em que o Aeroporto de Congonhas é tema do debate entre Lula e Geraldo Alckmin, nas eleições do ano passado. No vídeo acima, em debate na TV Bandeirantes, o Apedeuta diz que o candidato tucano deveria ser grato pela reforma feita no Aeroporto de Congonhas. Reparem na arrogância.
Se você clicar aqui, terá acesso a um outro, este do debate na TV Record, em que se fala do superfaturamento de R$ 100 milhões havido na reforma de Congonhas. Com o apreço de sempre pela verdade, Lula diz que as obras ainda nem tinham sido pagas. Tinham. Tanto é que ele afirma que seria preciso aguardar parecer do TCU. O tribunal só dá parecer depois de efetivado o pagamento. Ah claro: também o resultado da apuração do TCU veio à luz. E apontou... superfaturamento!!!
As emissoras de TV deveriam liberar a imagem de Lula apenas depois das 23h. Para, como quer o Romãozinho da censura, “proteger as nossas crianças”. Lula é impróprio para consumo humano. Que ao menos se preservem os menores de 18 anos.
Reproduzam este post, passem adiante. Eles têm a Al Qaeda eletrônica. Temos a rede dos homens livres.

Relativismo Cultural

Há algum tempo atrás – talvez um mês – lembro de ter visto uma discussão em que um imbecil que atendia pelo nome de Renato Cardoso (dizia até ser um ‘adevogado’), ao ver a notícia de que uma mulher paquistanesa tinha sido condenada a ser estuprada por vários homens, defendia o “direito” daquela sociedade islâmica aplicar esse tipo de pena, e ainda dizia a quem não concordasse com sua estúpida opinião que “Isso são costumes regionais, que devemos respeitar”.

Esse tipo de absurdo é um exemplo clássico do Relativismo Cultural (RC) – outro dos dogmas da esquerda estúpida – que quase sempre caminha de mãos dadas com a equivalência moral (mesmo porque sem relativismos seria praticamente impossível qualquer forma de equivalência moral).
O RC defende que o bem e o mal são relativos a cada cultura. O "bem" seria simplesmente o que é "socialmente aprovado" numa dada cultura. Ainda de acordo com o RC, os princípios morais descrevem convenções sociais e devem ser baseados nas normas de cada sociedade.

Sobre isso, segue um texto retirado do livro ETHICS, de Harry J. Gensler. O texto é bem longo e bastante didático.

Começaremos por ouvir uma figura ficcional, a quem chamarei de Ana Relativista, e que nos explicará a sua crença no relativismo cultural. Ao ler o que se segue, ou explicações semelhantes, proponho-lhe que reflita até que ponto esta é uma perspectiva plausível e se se harmoniza com o seu ponto de vista. Depois de ouvirmos o que Ana tem para dizer, consideraremos várias objeções ao RC.

1. Ana Relativista
O meu nome é Ana Relativista. Aderi ao relativismo cultural ao compreender a profunda base cultural que suporta a moralidade.
Fui educada para acreditar que a moral se refere a fatos objetivos. Tal como a neve é branca, também o infanticídio é um mal. Mas as atitudes variam em função do espaço e do tempo. As normas que aprendi são as normas da minha própria sociedade; outras sociedades possuem diferentes normas. A moral é uma construção social. Tal como as sociedades criam diversos estilos culinários e de vestuário, também criam códigos morais distintos. Aprendi-o ao estudar antropologia e vivi-o no México quando estive lá a estudar.

Considere a minha crença de que o infanticídio é um mal. Ensinaram-me isto como se se tratasse de um padrão objetivo. Mas não é; é apenas aquilo que defende a sociedade a que pertenço. Quando afirmo "O infanticídio é um mal" quero dizer que a minha sociedade desaprova essa prática e nada mais. Para os antigos romanos, por exemplo, o infanticídio era um bem. Não tem sentido perguntar qual das perspectivas é "correta". Cada um dos pontos de vista é relativo à sua cultura, e o nosso é relativo à nossa. Não existem verdades objectivas acerca do bem ou do mal. Quando dizemos o contrário, limitamo-nos a impor a nossas atitudes culturalmente adquiridas como se se tratassem de "verdades objetivas".

"Mal" é um termo relativo. Deixem-me explicar o que isto significa. Quero dizer que nada está absolutamente "à esquerda", mas apenas "à esquerda deste ou daquele" objeto. Do mesmo modo, nada é um mal em absoluto, mas apenas um mal nesta ou naquela sociedade particular. O infanticídio pode ser um mal numa sociedade e um bem noutra.

Podemos expressar esta perspectiva claramente através de uma definição: "X é um bem" significa "a maioria (na sociedade em questão) aprova X". Outros conceitos morais como "mal" ou "correto", podem ser definidos da mesma forma. Note-se ainda a referência a uma sociedade específica. A menos que o contrário seja especificado, a sociedade em questão é aquela a que pertence a pessoa que formula o juízo. Quando afirmo "Hitler agiu erradamente" quero de fato dizer "de acordo com os padrões da minha sociedade".

O mito da objetividade afirma que as coisas podem ser um bem ou um mal de uma forma absoluta — e não relativamente a esta ou àquela cultura. Mas como poderemos saber o que é o bem ou o mal em termos absolutos? Como poderíamos argumentar a favor desta idéia sem pressupor os padrões da nossa própria sociedade? As pessoas que falam do bem e do mal de forma absoluta limitam-se a absolutizar as normas que vigoram na sua própria sociedade. Consideram as normas que lhes foram ensinadas como fatos objetivos. Essas pessoas necessitam de estudar antropologia, ou viver algum tempo numa cultura diferente.

Quando adotei o relativismo cultural tornei-me mais receptiva a aceitar outras culturas. Como muitos outros estudantes, eu partilhava a típica atitude "nós estamos certos e eles errados". Lutei arduamente contra isto. Apercebi-me de que o outro lado não está "errado" mas que é apenas "diferente". Temos, por isso, que considerar os outros a partir do seu próprio ponto de vista; ao criticá-los, limitamo-nos a impor-lhes padrões que a nossa própria sociedade construiu. Nós, os relativistas culturais, somos mais tolerantes.

Através do relativismo cultural tornei-me também mais receptiva às normas da minha própria sociedade. O RC dá-nos uma base para uma moral comum no interior da cada cultura — uma base democrática que abrange as idéias de todos e assegura que as normas tenham um amplo suporte. Assim, posso sentir-me solidária com pessoas que partilham comigo uma mesma comunidade, ainda que outros grupos possuam diferentes valores.

2. Objeções ao RC
Ana deu-nos uma formulação clara de um ponto de vista acerca da moral que muitas pessoas consideram atrativa. Refletiu bastante acerca da moral e isto permite-nos aprender com ela. Contudo, estou convencido de que a sua perspectiva básica neste domínio está errada. Suponho que Ana acabará por concordar à medida que as suas idéias ficarem mais claras.

Deixem-me indicar o principal problema. RC força-nos a conformar-nos com as normas sociais — ou contradizemo-nos. Se "bem" e "socialmente aprovado" significam a mesma coisa, seja o que for ao qual o primeiro termo se aplique também o segundo lhe é aplicável.

Assim, o seguinte raciocínio seria válido:
Isto e aquilo são socialmente aprovados. Logo, isto e aquilo são bens.

Se o relativismo cultural fosse verdadeiro, não poderíamos consistentemente discordar dos valores da nossa sociedade. Mas este resultado é absurdo. Claro que é possível consistentemente discordar dos valores da nossa sociedade. Podemos afirmar consistentemente que algo é socialmente aprovado e negar que seja um "bem". Isto não é possível se o RC for verdadeiro.

Ana poderia aceitar esta conseqüência implausível e dizer que é contraditório discordar moralmente da maioria. Mas esta seria uma conseqüência especialmente difícil de ser aceite. Ana teria de aceitar que os defensores dos direitos civis estariam a contradizer-se ao discordarem da perspectiva aceite pelos segregacionistas. E teria de aceitar a perspectiva da maioria em todas as questões morais — mesmo que perceba que a maioria é ignorante.

Suponha que Ana tinha aprendido que a maioria das pessoas da sua cultura aprovam a intolerância e também a idéia de ridicularizar pessoas de outras culturas. Teria ainda assim de concluir que a intolerância é um bem (apesar de esta atitude contrariar as suas próprias intuições).
A intolerância é socialmente aprovada. Logo, a intolerância é um bem.

Ana teria que aceitar a conclusão (aceitar que a intolerância é boa) ou rejeitar o relativismo cultural. Se quiser ser consistente é necessário modificar pelo menos uma destas perspectivas.

Eis uma dificuldade ainda mais grave. Imaginemos que Ana encontrava alguém chamada Rita Rebelde, oriunda de um país Nazista. Na terra natal de Rita, os judeus e os críticos do governo são colocados em campos de concentração. Sucede que a maioria das pessoas, mal informadas sobre o que se passa, aprovam esta política. Rita é uma dissidente. Defende que esta política, apesar do apoio da maioria das pessoas, está errada. Se Ana quisesse aplicar o RC a esta situação particular teria que dizer a Rita algo do gênero:

Rita, a palavra "bem" refere-se ao que é aprovado pela tua cultura. Como essa cultura aprova o racismo e a opressão, deves aceitar esta atitude como um bem. Não podes pensar diferentemente. A perspectiva minoritária está sempre errada — o "bem" é, por definição, aquilo que socialmente é aprovado.

A perspectiva do RC é intolerante para com as minorias (que automaticamente estão erradas) e forçaria Rita a aceitar o racismo e a opressão como sendo bons. Isto decorre da definição de "bem" como algo "socialmente aprovado". Ao compreendê-lo, talvez abandone o RC.

O racismo é um bom teste para a ética. Uma perspectiva ética satisfatória deve fornecer-nos os meios para combater atos racistas. O RC falha neste aspecto, dado estar comprometido com a tese segundo a qual as ações racialmente motivadas são boas numa dada sociedade se essa sociedade as aprova. Se Rita seguisse o RC, teria que concordar com a atitude racista da maioria, ainda que as pessoas estivessem mal informadas ou fossem ignorantes. O relativismo cultural parece bastante insatisfatório neste ponto.

A educação moral é também um bom teste ético. Se aceitássemos o RC, como educaríamos os nossos filhos em questões de ordem moral? Ensinar-lhes-íamos que pensassem e agissem de acordo com as normas da sua sociedade, qualquer que esta fosse. Estaríamos a ensiná-los a serem conformistas. Ensinar-lhes-íamos, por exemplo, que os seguintes raciocínios são corretos:
"A minha sociedade aprova A; logo, A é bom."
"O meu grupo aprova que nos embebedemos às sextas-feiras à noite e conduzamos no regresso a casa; logo, esta é uma boa atitude."
"A minha sociedade é Nazista e aprova o racismo; logo, o racismo é um bem."

Aceitar o RC priva-nos de exercer qualquer sentido crítico acerca das normas da nossa sociedade. Estas normas não podem estar erradas — ainda que resultem da estupidez e da ignorância.

Do mesmo modo, as normas de outras sociedades (mesmo as da terra natal de Rita) não podem estar erradas ou serem criticadas. O RC contraria o espírito crítico que é próprio da filosofia.

3. Diversidade moral
O relativismo cultural considera o mundo como algo que está dividido de uma forma nítida em sociedades distintas. Em cada uma delas não existe desacordo em questões morais ou apenas em pequena escala, dado que a perspectiva majoritária determina o que é considerado um bem ou um mal nessa sociedade. Mas o mundo não é assim. Pelo contrário, o mundo é uma mistura confusa de sociedades e grupos sobrepostos; e os indivíduos não seguem necessariamente o ponto de vista da maioria.

O relativismo cultural ignora o problema dos subgrupos. Todos nós fazemos parte de grupos sobrepostos. Cada um de nós, por exemplo, faz parte de uma nação, de um estado, de uma cidade, de um bairro. Além disso, cada um de nós pertence a várias comunidades, profissionais, religiosas, grupos de amigos, etc. É freqüente estes grupos terem valores que estão em conflito. De acordo com o RC, quando afirmo "O racismo é um mal" pretendo dizer "A minha sociedade desaprova o racismo". Mas a que sociedade nos referimos? Talvez a maioria das pessoas que pertencem à minha comunidade religiosa e ao meu país desaprove o racismo, enquanto a maioria dos que fazem parte do meu grupo profissional e familiar o aprovem. O relativismo cultural poderia dar-nos meios para nos conduzirmos corretamente no plano moral apenas se cada um de nós pertencesse a uma única sociedade. Mas o mundo é bastante mais complicado do que este quadro sugere. Até certo ponto, todos nós somos indivíduos multi-culturalizados.

O RC não tenta estabelecer normas comuns entre sociedades. À medida que a tecnologia invade o planeta, as disputas morais entre diferentes sociedades têm tendência para se tornarem mais importantes. O país A aprova a existência de direitos iguais para as mulheres (ou outras raças e religiões), mas o país B desaprova-o. Que deve fazer uma companhia multinacional que opera nos dois países? Ou as sociedades A e B têm conflitos de valores que conduzem à guerra. Dado que o relativismo cultural pouco nos ajuda acerca destes problemas, oferece-nos uma base muito pobre para responder às exigências da vida no século XXI.

Como responder à diversidade cultural entre sociedades? Ana rejeita a atitude dogmática do gênero "Nós estamos certos e eles errados". Percebe a necessidade de compreender as sociedades e culturas diferentes da sua própria a partir do ponto de vista dessas culturas e sociedades. Estas são idéias positivas. Mas, em seguida, afirma também que nenhum dos lados pode estar errado. Isto limita a nossa capacidade para aprender. Se a nossa cultura não pode estar errada, não pode aprender com os seus próprios erros. Compreender as normas de outras culturas não permitirá ajudar-nos a corrigir os erros das nossas próprias sociedades.

Aqueles que acreditam em valores objetivos vêem estes assuntos de um modo diferente. Poderiam defender algo como isto:

Existem verdades para descobrir no domínio moral, mas nenhuma cultura possui o monopólio destas verdades. As diferentes culturas necessitam de aprender umas com as outras. Para que tomemos consciência dos erros e dos nossos valores, é necessário conhecer como procedem as outras culturas, e de que forma reagem ao que nós fazemos. Aprender com diferentes culturas pode ajudar-nos a corrigir os nossos valores e a aproximar-nos da verdade acerca do modo como devemos viver.

4. Valores objetivos
É necessário falar um pouco mais acerca da objetividade dos valores. Este é um tópico bastante vasto e importante.

A perspectiva objetivista (também designada realismo moral) defende que certas coisas são objetivamente um bem ou objetivamente um mal, independentemente do que possamos sentir ou pensar. Martin Luther King, por exemplo, defendia que o racismo está objetivamente errado. Que o racismo esteja errado era para ele um fato. Qualquer pessoa e cultura que aprovasse o racismo estariam erradas. Ao dizer isto, King não estava a absolutizar as normas da nossa sociedade; discordava, pelo contrário, das normas amplamente aceites. Fazia apelo a uma verdade mais elevada acerca do bem e do mal, uma verdade que não estava dependente do modo de pensar ou sentir das pessoas neste ou naquele momento. Fazia apelo a valores objetivos.

Ana rejeita a crença em valores objetivos e chama-lhe "o mito da objetividade". Nesta perspectiva, as coisas são um bem ou um mal apenas relativamente a esta ou àquela cultura. Não são objetivamente boas ou más, como King pensava. Mas serão os valores objetivos realmente um "mito"? Para responder a isto convém examinar o raciocínio de Ana.

Ana tinha três argumentos contra a objetividade dos valores. Não existem verdades morais objetivas porque:

*A moral é um produto da cultura;
*As sociedades discordam amplamente acerca da moralidade;
*Não existe uma maneira clara de resolver diferenças morais.

De fato, qualquer destes argumentos cede com facilidade se o examinarmos cuidadosamente.

1- "Dado que a moral é um produto da cultura, não podem existir verdades morais objetivas". O problema deste raciocínio é que um produto da cultura pode expressar uma verdade objetiva. Qualquer livro é um produto cultural; no entanto, muitos livros exprimem verdades objetivas. Da mesma forma, um código moral pode ser um produto cultural e expressar verdades objetivas acerca da maneira como as pessoas devem viver.

2- "Visto as diferentes culturas discordarem amplamente sobre a moral, não podem existir verdades morais objetivas." O simples fato de existir desacordo não mostra, no entanto, que não existe verdade neste domínio e que nenhum dos lados está certo ou errado. O extenso desacordo entre diferentes culturas acerca de antropologia, religião, e até em física, não impede a existência de verdades objetivas nestes domínios. Logo, o desacordo em questões morais não mostra que não exista verdade nestes assuntos.

Podemos igualmente questionar-nos se as diferentes culturas divergem assim tão profundamente sobre a moral. Na maior parte das culturas existem normas muito semelhantes quanto a matar, roubar e mentir. E muitas das diferenças podem ser explicadas em resultado da aplicação dos mesmos valores básicos a diferentes situações. A Regra de Ouro "Trata os outros como queres ser tratado" é quase universalmente aceite em todo o mundo. E as diferentes culturas que constituem as Nações Unidas concordaram em larga medida a respeito dos direitos humanos mais elementares.

3- "Como não existe uma maneira clara de resolver diferenças morais, não é possível que existam verdades morais objetivas." Mas podem existir maneiras claras de resolver pelo menos um grande número de diferenças morais. Precisamos de uma forma de raciocinar em ética que faça apelo às pessoas inteligentes e com suficiente abertura de espírito de todas as culturas — isto faria pela ética o que se obteve em ciência com o método experimental.

Ainda que não existisse uma maneira sólida de conhecer verdades morais, daí não se segue que tais verdades não existam. Existem verdades que não conhecemos inequivocamente. Terá chovido neste lugar 500 anos atrás? Há seguramente uma verdade acerca disto que nunca conheceremos. Apenas uma pequena percentagem de verdades são conhecidas. Logo, podem existir verdades morais objetivas mesmo que não possamos sabê-lo.

O ataque de Ana aos valores morais objetivos falhou. Mas isto não encerra o tema porque há mais argumentos. O debate sobre a objetividade dos valores é importante. Antes de terminar gostaria de clarificar alguns aspectos.

O ponto de vista objetivista afirma que algumas coisas são objetivamente um bem ou um mal, independentemente do que possamos pensar ou sentir; contudo, esta perspectiva está preparada para aceitar algum relativismo noutras áreas. Muitas regras sociais são claramente determinadas por padrões locais:

*Regra local: "É proibido virar à direita com a luz vermelha."
*Regra de etiqueta local: "Use o garfo apenas com a mão esquerda."

É necessário respeitar este gênero de regras locais; ao proceder de outra maneira podemos ferir as pessoas, quer porque chocamos contra os seus carros quer porque ferimos os seus sentimentos. Na concepção objetivista, a exigência de não magoar as outras pessoas é uma regra de um gênero diferente — uma regra moral — não determinada por costumes locais. Considera-se que as regras morais possuem mais autoridade que as leis governamentais ou as regras de etiqueta; são regras que qualquer sociedade deve respeitar se quiser sobreviver e prosperar. Se visitarmos um lugar cujos padrões permitem magoar as pessoas por razões triviais, então esses padrões estão errados. O relativismo cultural disputa esta afirmação. A idéia é que os padrões locais são determinantes ainda que se trate de princípios morais básicos; assim, ferir outras pessoas por motivos triviais é um bem se esta atitude for socialmente aprovada.

Respeitar as diferenças culturais não nos transforma em relativistas culturais. Este é um falso estereótipo. O que caracteriza o relativismo cultural é a afirmação de que tudo o que é socialmente aprovado é um bem.

5. Ciências sociais
Há um estereótipo bastante divulgado que afirma que todos os especialistas em ciências sociais são relativistas culturais. Na verdade, os especialistas em ciências sociais defendem um âmbito variado de perspectivas sobre os fundamentos da ética. Muitos rejeitam este gênero de relativismo. O psicólogo moral Lawrence Kohlberg, por exemplo, considerava o relativismo cultural uma abordagem relativamente imatura da moralidade, típica de adolescentes e de adultos jovens.

Kohlberg afirmava que todos nós, independentemente da nossa cultura, desenvolvemos o pensamento moral através de uma série de estádios. Os primeiros quatro são os seguintes:

1- Punição/obediência: o "mal" é o que implica punição.
2- Recompensas: o "bem" é aquilo que nos dá o que desejamos.
3- Aprovação familiar: o "bem" é o que agrada à mamã e ao papá.
4- Aprovação social: o "bem" é aquilo que é socialmente aprovado.

Quando são muito novas, as crianças pensam na moral em termos de punições e obediência. Mais tarde, começam a pensar em termos de recompensa e, em seguida, em termos de aprovação familiar. Mais tarde ainda, na adolescência ou quando são adultos jovens, atingem a fase do relativismo cultural. Nesta fase, o "bem" coincide com o que é socialmente aprovado, o grupo de amigos em primeiro lugar, e depois a sociedade como um todo. É dada importância ao tipo de vestuário que se usa e ao gênero certo de música que se ouve — onde "gênero certo" significa seja o que for que é socialmente aprovado. São muitos os jovens estudantes liceais que se debatem com estas questões. Talvez por isso levem a sério o relativismo cultural — mesmo que o ponto de vista seja implausível quando o analisamos cuidadosamente.

Segundo Kohlberg, que fase sucede ao relativismo cultural? Por vezes, confusão e cepticismo; de fato, um curso de ética pode promover esta atitude. A seguir, passamos para o estádio 5 (semelhante ao utilitarismo das regras) ou para o estádio 6 (próximo da Regra de Ouro). Ambos procuram avaliar as normas convencionais racionalmente.

Não estou a referir Kohlberg com o objetivo de argumentar que, sendo correta a sua perspectiva, o relativismo cultural está errado. Esta perspectiva é controversa. São vários os psicólogos que propõem uma seqüência diferente dos estádios morais ou que rejeitam a idéia de que existem estádios. Além disso, o relativismo cultural já foi adequadamente demolido; não é necessária a ajuda da psicologia. Mencionei Kohlberg porque muitas pessoas se sentem pressionadas a aceitar o relativismo cultural em virtude do mito de que todos os especialistas em ciências sociais são relativistas culturais. Mas este gênero de consenso não existe. Kohlberg e muitos outros especialistas em ciências sociais rejeitam enfaticamente o relativismo cultural. Vêem nele um estádio imaturo do pensamento moral que nos faz conformar com a nossa sociedade.

A abordagem de Kohlberg coloca, no entanto, um problema acerca do significado de "bem". As pessoas podem querer dizer com esta palavra diferentes coisas em estádios diferentes; numa criança, "bem" pode significar "o que agrada à mamã e ao papá". Logo, devemos dirigir a nossa atenção para aquilo que as pessoas com maturidade moral têm em vista com esta palavra. Se o nosso argumento estiver correto, uma pessoa com maturidade moral, quando utiliza este termo, não pretende afirmar que "bem" significa "socialmente aprovado".

6. Sumário
O relativismo cultural afirma que "bem" significa o que é "socialmente aprovado" pela maioria de uma dada cultura. O infantícidio não é objetivamente um bem ou um mal; pelo contrário, é um bem numa sociedade que o aprove e um mal numa sociedade onde não obtenha aprovação.

O relativismo cultural considera que a moral é um produto da cultura. Afirma que as diferentes sociedades discordam amplamente sobre a moral e que não temos meios claros para resolver as diferenças. Os relativistas culturais consideram-se pessoas tolerantes; olham para as outras culturas não como estando "erradas" mas como "diferentes".

Apesar de inicialmente plausível, o relativismo cultural tem vários problemas. Por exemplo, torna impossível discordar dos valores da nossa sociedade. Acontece, por vezes, afirmarmos que, apesar de socialmente aprovada, uma certa atitude não é boa. E isto está em contradição com o RC.

Além disso, o relativismo cultural implica que a intolerância e o racismo sejam um "bem" se a sociedade o aprovar. Leva-nos ainda a aceitar as normas da nossa sociedade acriticamente.

O relativismo cultural combate a idéia de que existem valores objetivos. O ataque pode ser desmontado com facilidade se o examinarmos cuidadosamente.

São muitos os especialistas em ciências sociais que se opõem ao relativismo cultural. O psicólogo Lawrence Kohlberg, por exemplo, defende que as pessoas de todas as culturas passam pelos mesmos estádios de desenvolvimento moral. O relativismo cultural representa um estágio relativamente baixo no qual simplesmente nos conformamos com os valores da sociedade em que vivemos. Em estágios mais avançados, o relativismo cultural é rejeitado; consideramos criticamente as normas aceites e pensamos pela nossa cabeça em questões de ordem moral.