The future of conservatism in Brazil without Olavo de Carvalho, according to his students

O futuro do conservadorismo no Brasil sem Olavo de Carvalho, segundo seus alunos

| Photo: Osvalter Urbinati Filho

“I met him in 1998, I was in my last year of law school, very frustrated with the university. I went into a bookstore to see if I could find some direction for my life and there Ibecil Coletivo was on display. I thought the title was funny and said: let’s see what it is. I read it in an entire afternoon. The reading was very symbolic for me, as he made an absurdly accurate diagnosis of the university reality, which was mine. I had no words to say what I saw at the time, but Olavo said what I saw, without my being able to say it. I was extremely excited at that time, because I finally found someone who talked about things as they are.”

Reports like this, by professor and writer Francisco Escorsim, are surprisingly common among followers of Olavo de Carvalho, who died on Monday night ( ), when they tell how their first contact with the teacher was. If most of the mainstream media only started to mention it when it was already impossible to hide it, almost always relating it to the political rise of Jair Bolsonaro, three decades earlier Olavo was already working on his main objective: to create a new Brazilian intellectual elite. to free the country from the cultural hegemony of the left.

Even snubbing the university , Olavo leaves a legion of students countless enough to generate envy in postdocs who collect degrees but are unable to achieve such intellectual influence. Now an orphan, this crowd will show if their master’s tireless work will yield the fruits he longed for.

For Escorsim, although it is obvious that Olavo achieved his objective of destroying the silence imposed on the right in Brazil, it still takes time to affirm that his students really form a relevant intellectual elite in the country. “There are several influencers, politicians, teachers, courses. This is undeniable. He conquered it. However, in general, they are still very outsiders , whether in academia, in the editorial environment, in newsrooms, which are usually the places where an intellectual elite appears and acts. So, it is a construction that is very far from this system, which is why it is very difficult to map. There is still no clarity to know how far they are getting.”

Questioned about divisions among followers, Escorsim considers that the numerous generations of students are quite fragmented, but this does not exactly consist of dissent, because, according to him, it would only make sense to speak of division if there was a common purpose. “He never had a project of conservatism, a political project. Olavo’s project has always been to create a new intellectual elite. It went through cultural and political combat, but the objective was to form an intellectual elite. And this has nothing to do with conservatism itself”, he says.

Flávio Morgentern, writer, political analyst and one of Olavo’s most prestigious students among the conservative public, also says he does not see divisions between those who are, in fact, scholars of Olavo’s work. “There are judges and literary critics, like Rodrigo Gurgel. There are journalists like Bruna Torlay and Paulo Briguet. Filmmakers like Josias Teófilo and Mauro Ventura. We have historians, writers and even cartoonists and marketers. So, it is a unit of thought that materializes in different ways.”

He differentiates, however, those who delve into what the professor produced, especially his philosophy books, from those who read only his essays or enjoy polemics on social networks. “These are not students”, he notes.

A similar analysis is made by the federal deputy Filipe Barros (PSL-PR), one of Olavo’s disciples who opted for the political path. Used to dealing with both digital militancy and right-wing intellectuals, he says he is optimistic about the fruits that the professor’s followers will still bear and argues that it is necessary to differentiate Olavo’s own legacy between his denser production and the actions to publicize your ideas. “He managed to popularize his work thanks to his mocking language, his strategic use of profanity, his authenticity. But day-to-day politics is one thing, and to talk about this, the teacher used social networks or his podcast, the True Outspeak. Another thing is his philosophical work itself. Anyone who understands these two realities well knows that there is unity.”

)Olavo, the life-transformer

The story de Barros with Olavo also fits the pattern of those who see his work as a watershed in their own lives. In 2012, he was president of the Student Central Directory (DCE), at the State University of Londrina (UEL) ). At the end of that year, the then university of law had contact with the philosopher’s writings and, instigated, at the beginning of 1998 enrolled in his online philosophy course, starting to attend his classes weekly. The following year, already as a graduate, Barros asks his father to help him pay for a trip to Virginia, in the United States, where he participates in person in a course given by Olavo on the work of the British philosopher Roger Scruton, in his own residence. There, he spends a few days with the professor and his family, when he obtains one of the most commented photos of his campaign for the Chamber of Deputies, where he appears practicing target shooting with a shotgun, alongside Olavo.

Morgenstern admits to having already denied the link with the professor in a loud and clear voice. “I remember once declaring that he was right-wing while having dinner at the university restaurant at UFPR. My interlocutor said: ‘One more of these and you become a disciple of Olavo de Carvalho’. And I quickly: ‘No, no, not at that level either, right?’ Months later he would read O Ibecil Coletivo, with the intention of making fun of the author because of the funny name, but the reading had other consequences. “The number of authors with whom Olavo dialogued simply drowned me. I spent months making reading notes that would only multiply. I realized that he was a man who wrote absurdly well, could be funny and explain deep topics with ease.” Despite the initial fascination, Morgenstern states that his effective approach to Olavo’s philosophy would still take time, would be gradual and brought him even more satisfaction in recent years, when he could count on the professor’s friendship after meeting him in person.

Probably, however, one of the most intense life-transforming stories from the writings of Olavo de Carvalho is reported by journalist and writer Paulo Briguet who, when talking about himself in the years 24, defines himself as an atheist, communist, womanizer and drunk. It was in the midst of an intense existential crisis that he claims to have read an article by the professor in a magazine. Curiosity led him to many more texts by Olaf until he reached a dramatic conclusion: “To the 01 years old, corroded by addiction and ravaged by hate, I found my whole life to be one big farce, a peremptory denial of reality.” His last book of chronicles, “Nossa Senhora dos Ateus”, is dedicated to the professor with the following declaration: “To my friend and master Olavo de Carvalho, who helped me to get out of the Dark Night”.

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