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Who was Olavo de Carvalho: philosopher, Christian, anti-communist and right-wing reference

The phenomenon of the awakening of a new mobilization of liberal and conservative ideas in Brazil, nicknamed the “new right”, resulted from a complex process and the mobilization of several actors and institutions. It had, however, among its most indisputable inaugural protagonists, the figure of the São Paulo thinker Olavo Luiz Pimentel de Carvalho (28 – 2022).

Few of these authors could be said to have had their names shouted out by the public in mass demonstrations. At least two men of ideas were revered in this way in the protests that led to the impeachment of former president Dilma Rousseff. One of them, a foreign author: the Austrian economist Ludwig von Mises. The other – who, by the way, acted as a promoter of the first on the national scene – was precisely Olavo.

Born in Campinas, Olavo de Carvalho carried out multiple activities in his biography. In the midst of this plurality, the nature of the controversy was a perennial mark in its trajectory. To Olavo, it would be a Herculean task to be indifferent to her. The ability to attract love and hate in such singular intensities leads to an inescapable consideration, whatever the value judgment that may be deduced from it: that one cannot ignore its impact on the universe of Brazilian thought.

In his youth, Olavo fought for the communist movement that he would later dedicate himself to fighting, opposing the military governments in the years 60. From an early age, he already worked as a journalist – his first experience was when he was 17 years old, at Folha da Manhã. Then he acted as an astrologer. He participated in the I Brazilian Colloquium of Astrology in São Paulo and collaborated in a university extension course on the subject aimed at Psychology students at PUC-SP, in 1990 . He published his first book the following year: The Image of Man in Astrology. More recently, despite reviewing his old positions and declaring himself a “former astrologer”, he never came to deny the importance of the astrological theme, emphasizing that it would still arouse useful reflections for the human sciences if it were duly deepened.

Esoteric influence led to the profession of Catholicism

Olavo de Carvalho’s thinking was also greatly influenced by his experience in esoteric circles, in a period when his attention turned to the subject of comparative religion. He attended the Brazilian representation of the tariqa – a center for fraternization and contemplation of Islamic mystics, called “Sufis” –, by the Swiss Frithjof Schuon. According to Olavo himself, his intention in doing so was to pursue a deeper understanding of the spiritual life.

Through Schuon, Olavo was also influenced by the thinking of the Frenchman René Guénon, molding himself to the school philosophy supported by the two esoteric authors, Perennialism. Perennialism is a form of traditionalism that fears what it believes to be the degeneration of Western civilization under the impact of the Enlightenment and modernity.

Although the tariqa is an esoteric Islamic circle, Olavo considered that the Perennialism led him to the understanding that Christianity would be the “science of the sciences” and that there would be a “transcendent unity of religions”, but only with regard to the identity of its metaphysical doctrines, not in its power to save souls or sanctify them.

He avowedly adhered to Roman Catholicism. However, partly as a result of his perennialist tendencies, the São Paulo thinker entered a collision course, on several occasions, with traditionalist Catholic circles, such as the obstacles with the polemicist Orlando Fedeli, who considered Olavo a deviant from the true doctrine of the Church. The philosopher’s students and admirers, numerous and willing to recognize in his work a unique contribution to the intellectual and cultural development of Brazil, used to retort claiming that few were able to lead as many people to the Catholic faith as Olavo.

Olavo de Carvalho was a notable conservative and staunch anti-communist

In his performance as a public intellectual, built without any university degree – even though he studied at the Philosophical Research Complex of PUC-RJ for three years, under the direction of professor and priest Stanislavs Ladusãns – Olavo became known for his conservative and anti-communist positions. The Brazilian naturalized thinker Ricardo Vélez Rodríguez, former Minister of Education, in his work Pensamento Político Brasileiro Contemporâneo, presented Olavo de Carvalho as one of the authors who intended to investigate “the backdrop foundation of fundamental beliefs” on which societies are supported, in his case “from a platform of primordial myths present in ancient spiritual traditions” and from an analysis of the constant symbology of these myths. With this in mind, one of Olavo’s most impressive texts is his analysis of the application of this symbology to the classic film by 1991 The Silence of the Lambs , starring Anthony Hopkins and Jodie Foster.

In addition to the perennialists, in his philosophical work, Olavo de Carvalho promoted a particular dialogue with classical Greek philosophy, as in the books The Garden of Afflictions: from Epicurus to the Resurrection of Caesar – Essay on Materialism and Civil Religion (1995 )) and Aristotle in New Perspective: Introduction to the Theory of the Four Discourses (1996). He became a pungent critic of some of the main philosophies of modernity, which he considered as setbacks in relation to classical thought, criticizing with special determination authors such as Immanuel Kant, Hegel or Karl Marx.

As a journalist, Olavo wrote for vehicles such as Folha de S. Paulo, Jornal do Brasil, O Globo and Diário do Comércio. Works of his own, such as O Imbecil Coletivo (1996) and, more recently, the best seller The Minimum You Need to Know to Not Be an Idiot (2013), achieved great editorial success and attracted, among the various negative criticism (particularly from the university intelligentsia, a recurring target of their attacks), praise from personalities such as Roberto Campos, Meira Penna, the poet Bruno Tolentino and the journalist Paulo Francis.

Influencer in social networks, he valued accessible language

Olavo’s rhetoric as a communicator through the internet and social networks, means in which he became an expressive influencer and popularized a Philosophy course – still maintaining a press vehicle, Mídia Sem Máscara, and a program, True Outspeak –, it was, however, the true instrument that gave its name the peak of penetration Social. From then on, his biography was disguised as all sorts of conspiracyist folklore and the most susceptible moods were scandalized by his sarcastic style and his constant resort to profanity and virulent attacks against his opponents.

In the view of Olavo, swearing was “necessary in the Brazilian context to demolish this polite language that is a straitjacket that holds people, forcing them to respect what does not deserve respect”. The dynamics with which Olavo amassed thousands of students and disciples, even living in the United States since 1995, gave rise to comments that these students had acquired a sectarian behavior, provoking confrontations intense and polarizing virtual spaces.

Fundamental promoter of authors different from conservatism

The recognition that Olavo became a fundamental promoter of diverse authors, many of them previously almost unknown, is practically unanimous. Olavo was a reviewer and editor of the work of names such as Roger Scruton, Eric Voegelin, Christopher Dawson, the Romanian Constantin Noica, the French Émile Cioran and the Brazilian Mário Ferreira dos Santos. Other better known ones, such as the German Arthur Schopenhauer, were edited, revised or at least presented to a large number of internet users in the country by Olavo de Carvalho, bibliographically feeding what would become the Brazilian “new right” of the first decades of the century 21.

Politically, Olavo defended the importance of building an intellectual elite capable of assisting in the sanitation of the country in all its spheres. Some concepts that decisively determined the thinking of the new generation of liberals and conservatives and that were popularized by his preaching were the denunciation against the Foro de São Paulo, an organization founded in 1990 by the major left-wing parties in Latin America, and the attack on the “Gsscian cultural revolution” – a strategic adaptation of the left to the occupation of spaces for the formation of the imaginary, to which liberals and conservatives would need to respond in order to undo a “cultural hegemony”. ” prevailing in the New Republic cycle.

Olavo believed that Brazil had a “sick democracy”, due to the imbalance between left and right, with absolute predominance of the former. He also dedicated himself to criticizing the “revolutionary mentality”, designation of a “state of mind” in which “an individual or group believes itself capable of reshaping society as a whole”, and fought against issues such as abortion and gay marriage.

For Olavo de Carvalho, conservatism encompasses what is positive in liberalism

In Olavo’s view, the label “conservative” has already would encompass the positive aspects of liberalism. He even published that he feared that liberals and libertarians would elevate the market economy to the level of a supreme value, although he also praised the vision of economists of the Austrian School. Despite his critical stances on aspects of modernity, he faced anti-liberal authors with arguments in defense of Western individualism, as in his famous debate with Russian thinker Alexandr Dugin.

He supported the election of Jair Bolsonaro in 2018, as well as being sympathetic to Donald Trump’s flags. The controversial former Trump strategist Steve Bannon and President Jair Bolsonaro were with Olavo at a dinner in the US. Students and admirers of the philosopher from Campinas – who always refused to be considered an “ideologist” by the government – ​​held important positions in the federal administration.

About Bolsonaro, in the last one 28 in December, in a live, Olavo defended himself from criticism from people close to the president and said he was responsible for turning him into an eligible candidate for the Planalto. For Olavo, Bolsonaro would have done a good administration, deserved to be re-elected, but he was “terrible” in defending himself from enemies. “He’s an excellent administrator, an honest man, he never stole anything and he’s doing a good job,” he said. “The only thing he doesn’t do right, or does badly, is defend himself against enemies. This he doesn’t know how to do. He only knows how to get hit.”

In the scientific field, he made several criticisms of Isaac Newton, Giordano Bruno and Galileo Galilei, which, in his opinion, would be overvalued. In March 2020, he declared that the coronavirus pandemic represented “the most extensive manipulation of public opinion that has ever taken place in human history” and that what was then considered an endemic was simply a fraud. He was a staunch fighter against the idea of ​​the health passport. Among his last aphorisms of life, he wrote: “Whoever takes politics seriously fights FOR ideals and AGAINST groups and individuals. Current Brazilian rightism has no ideals, it only has an idol. And against leftism it only fights for ideas. It’s all reversed.”

Died on 17 January

, for reasons not disclosed by the family.

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