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|Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira|
Unperceived Ideol. Transship. and Dial.
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Beyond Nuclear Terror: Dialogue
Taking advantage of a month's vacation, a typical successful businessman leans back in a comfortable poolside deck chair and lets his eyes peruse the morning newspaper. Adjusting his sunglasses and repositioning his chair to make the most of the shade provided by his parasol while sitting at the least distance possible from a nearby table which supports his frosty refreshment, he begins to scan the front page seeking some intellectual companionship in his newly discovered "paradise."
To his discomfiture, the world of reality from which he had escaped by jet only a day before has preceded him via the marvel of satellite news reporting.
The headlines have breached his makeshift wall of fantasies. Despite the tranquil ambience of his morning, the rest of the world is still in chaos. Everywhere there are reports or rumors of "wars;" "emerging" nations at odds with "underdeveloped" nations and all of them in conflict with the "developed" nations: spontaneous "people's liberation movements;" utopian "land reform" programs; undefineable levels of world "poverty;" an attempted resurrection of "detente," the "cold war" and, above all, "dialogue." From one end of the globe to the other there is an underlying pervading fear of a nuclear holocaust... and the extermination of the human race.
"Is the good life no longer possible?" our poolside lounger asks himself. "Are the noisy pushers of pacifism right? Are nations and national sovereignty outmoded? If the rights of nations have been voided, what then of my own rights, my business, my property? Is the only alternative to live the life of the "hippies," a communal good life bound up in an uncomfortable ribbon of "love?"
Our imaginary character's mind, at one moment was meandering comfortably down a quiet country lane, but now finds itself on a modern highway cloverleaf. His memory recalls other articles he has read, other conversations. Key words and phrases firmly rooted in his subconscious now begin to take shape...
"Our species, our kind is in such a manifold crisis, no one can be excused. If twenty years from now, the whole world blows up, you will not be able to say from the grave to the few survivors, 'I had a rigl.‑. good time.' We are asked to help rising people. We are asked by other parties to crush them. We are told they are humans, like us. We are told by other parties they are led by communist demons.
"Then there is the oncoming nuclear war. Albert Einstein said a nuclear holocaust is overwhelmingly likely. George Kistiakowsky, who was head of the Manhattan Project's Explosive Division and a scientific advisor to Presidents Eisenhower, Kennedy and Johnson said, 'I think that with the kind of political
leaders we have in the world ... nuclear weapons will proliferate. ... I personally think that the likelihood for an initial use of nuclear warheads is really quite great between now and the end of this century.'
"Finally, we arrive at the unadmitted crisis: ... the world‑wide tenacity of nationalism. But the revulsion against the Vietnam war ... was also the beginning of awareness among people that nuclear weapons would require us to move toward a transcendent internationalism. " (Commencement to Armageddon, Ronnie Dugger, Editor, Texas Observer, 7‑10‑81).
By now, the reader will see to what conclusions our perplexed vacationer is being led by the use of key words, phrases and presuppositions. The current international socio‑economic structure will lead inevitably to a West‑East nuclear confrontation ‑ one in which our poolside ponderer is liable to lose everything he has worked for. His mind races for a solution. From the same commencement address he recalls: "A human being, 'said Einstein,' is part of the whole, called by us 'universe,' a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings, as something separated from the rest ‑ a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of a prison for us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all loving creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty."
At this nebulous solution, our character begins to dream... "perhaps there is a way to save something of what I have gained. After all, a part of something is better than oblivion." Logic and reason, which had steadfastly supported him in his economic rise and provided the good life, now are abandoned to emotion. And why not? After all, for some time now his mind has been drinking from this side of the ideological river as well. This idea of "consciousness" heretofore restricted to a part of his brain remote for practical considerations now begins to emerge as a solution to the problem of survival.
Here, too, he finds that the wordsmiths of pacifism have been toiling a long time in his subconsciousness.
The socio‑economic link with the human consciousness was made clear by Thomas Merton. James Forest summarizes Merton's thoughts: "The monk is, after all, someone who takes up a critical attitude toward the world and its structures. In addition, both (the Christian monk and Marxist) share the idea that each should give according to his capacity and receive according to his need. As he stood in front of the Buddahs at Polonnaruwa he wrote, 'Filled with every possibility, questioning nothing, knowing everything, rejecting nothing ... the peace that has seen through every question without trying to discredit anyone or anything ‑ without refutation ‑ without establishing some other argument.'"
This is the ideal that the imaginary man at the poolside considers as his alternative. It is the ultimate escape from reason and logic.
This fabricated link between survival and consciousness has not restricted itself to the monasteries. It has already leapt over the wall and its misleading terminology forms a part of the effort being made in Catholic circles to play a leading role in the "peace" movement.
For example, on December 31, 1981, Bishop Roger Mahoney of Stockton, California wrote: "How can we become truly advocates of peace? I believe the nuclear arms policy of our nation, as well of the Soviet Union, has long since exceeded the bounds of justice and moral legitimacy. Moreover, the arms race makes it impossible to effectively end the urgent crisis of world hunger. What is needed is, instead, a radical change of our hearts and our attitudes ‑ a new awareness of our calling to be a people dedicated to peace. "
At the same time, teams of scientists associated with the Pontifical Academy of Sciences were sent by John Paul 11 to meet with world leaders in the United States, Great Britain, the Soviet Union, France and the United Nations. The teams bore a much publicized message about the impact of nuclear war.
Among the tenets gaining acceptance by the general public under this propaganda barrage is the belief that the possession and use of nuclear weapons is in itself immoral. Priests, nuns and members of the laity have protested the traditional teaching on a "just war" in a thousand‑word statement that challenged his assumption that nuclear weapons are a legitimate defensive strategy. The National Conference of Bishops endorsed the Vatican II Council's view in 1976 in a pastoral letter condemning the stockpiling of nuclear weapons and the "threat" to employ them.
Even more radical regarding the position of the Church is Msgr. Vincent A. Yzermans of St. Cloud, Minnesota, information director for the American bishops. Msgr. Yzermans wrote in a letter to The New York Times. Simply, the Church in the United States is becoming a 'peace' church ... in recent years, it has moved dramatically and swiftly from the company of the mainline Protestant and Evangelical churches into the quiet meeting place of the Society of Friends.
"Thank God, the American bishops are shouldering their responsibility of leading this revolution, at times to the chagrin and vocal opposition of their flocks. "(Corpus Christi Caller, 12‑3‑81).
This "revolution" is already a part of the mainstream of American life, according to Marilyn Ferguson in "The Aquarian Conspiracy: Personal and Social Transformation in the 1980's."
"I use the word 'conspiracy' in an unconventional way (sic). I'm describing the individuals, networks, groups of people all over the country, and in fact all over the planet, who are working to bring about special change; in this case, a change based on a shift of personal values ... deep personal changes ... something that is some kind of external dogma. The Aquarian Conspiracy is characterized by people ... who have a strong sense of community and sense of connection with other people. There is a very strong and steady shift of social values going on not only in this country but in other countries that has to do with moving from the material to the intangible, from economic incentives to the search for meaning."
This theme of a "search for a new beginning" that is found throughout The Aquarian Conspiracy harmonizes well with the goals of Einstein, Merton, Daniel Yankelovich (New Rules) and others. It also serves as the perfect bedfellow for the peace movement, whose goals "transcend" the rights of nations and individuals as well.
What we are witnessing is a natural evolution of a "war of words" that started in this country sixty years ago. At that time, the Republican Party of Warren Harding and Calvin Coolidge responded to the sentiments of a nation disgusted with the carnage of the Great War with two related policies. The first was an arms limitation. Today we call it a "freeze." The second was detente, the Kellogg‑Briand Pact of 1928 wherein nations denounced war as an "instrument of national policy ... .. At the time," wrote Henry Steele Commager and Samuel Elliot Morison, "the Washington Naval Treaty of 1922 and the London Naval Treaty of 1930 were regarded as outstanding victories for peace." A short lived peace promptly shattered by the Japanese invasion of Manchuria. Continuing, Commager and Morison wrote: "All these methods of preserving the peace ‑ by limitation, by incantation, etc. ... would have been effective among nations that wanted peace." World War 11 and the resulting 66give‑aways" at Teheran and Yalta were the result of this maneuver of detente.
And if all this were not enough of a history lesson, former President Nixon recently urged a return to detente and dialogue between the United States and the Soviet Union. The former president, who also opened the way for trade negotiations with Communist China, said a meeting between President Reagan and Leonid I. Brezhnev would be "important" and "welcome" (The Victoria Advocate, 7‑9‑82).
The clever mixture of Buddhist teachings, Catholic trappings and twisted terminology misleads the average man‑on‑the‑street. With their promise of a terrestrial paradise the pacifists will end in destroying the "good life." The United States, for example, and for that matter the rest of the West have become economically healthy through the use of reason and logic, not emotion. At best, the pacifist movement can be said to be misguided. The unity it seeks is one brought about by fear without a rational basis. It is a world without reason, and one that will bring about exactly what its advocates want to avoid: the annihilation of mankind.