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Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira
Unperceived Ideol. Transship. and Dial.

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C. Direct Effects of the Talismanic Word


Let us first consider the five direct effects of the talismanic word.


a) First EffectDialogue Solves Everything


The talismanic word begins to act over the irenicist prepared as described above (item A). He is told about dialogue. Next, he sees the word used in a new and special sense only indirectly related with its ordinary and usual meaning, and thus it shines in his eyes like something modern and elegant. People begin to use it as though it were a simple and irresistible way of changing convictions. Not to dialogue is ideological backwardness right in the middle of the atomic age. To dialogue is to be up‑to‑date and show how one is efficient and modern. Then the irenicist begins to think: "Dialogue solves all problems." No need for arguments or polemics; the only thing to do is dialogue with those who think differently, even if they are communists. By the affability that characterizes it, dialogue has the magic power to remove all prejudices, and guarantees its user the glory of persuading all its opponents.


b) Second Effect ‑ A World of Impressions and One‑sided Emotions


Based on one‑sided and obsessive fear of offending opponents by argument and polemics and on the certainty that there is no one he cannot convince through dialogue, our patient gradually forms a whole world of impressions and one‑sided emotions, of which we will mention only those found in the Catholic who argues or debates.

According to the irenicist, this kind of Catholic employs counterproductive and oldfashioned methods of apostolate because he is irascible, illtempered, and vindictive, having no charity for those who are in error. He treats them with unjust and harmful severity and, in the final analysis, he is really the one to blame for their staying outside the fold.


Hatred for the Most Ardent Catholics


This one‑sided impression creates an emotion, an antipathy against the Catholic apologist or polemicist, possibly even hatred. This antipathy, arising from the presupposition that all ideological controversy is evil, includes ipso facto and indiscriminately all those who argue or debate, whether properly or improperly.

However absurd it is, the apologist or polemicist begins to be hated by his brother in the Faith. The irenicist increasingly sees him as a sectarian and uncharitable Catholic, and his "error" as the only one for which there is no mercy: the tremendous "error" of being "ultraCatholic." It seems to be licit to use any weapon against someone accused of such an "error:" campaign of silence, ostracism, defamation, insult. And everything serves to document the accusations made against him. The most tenuous and vaguest clues and even simple rumors are proof. He, the true outcast from society en route to utopia, and no one else, is utterly forbidden to participate in the dialogue.

This causes a constantly increasing decimation among the most ardent sons of the Church Militant, that is, the most abnegated, most consistent, most perspicacious and most valiant.

We need not dwell on how much the adversaries of the Holy Church gain from this.


Admiration of and Unconditional Confidence in Those Outside the Church


This decimation coincides with growing admiration of and confidence in those who are outside the Church. Not rarely these sentiments become a "complex" capable of becoming categorical unconditionality. This makes sense, for if all our separated brothers can be converted through smiles, it is ultimately because only a few misunderstandings and resentments keep them separated from us. Their good will is perfect and unblemished.

When dialogue is properly done with those outside the Church, one must keep in mind both what separates us and what unites us. And by dexterously using charity one must know how to take advantage of what unites us in order to create, as much as possible, a cordial atmosphere when dealing objectively and tactfully with what separates us.


But in the irenical climate the Catholic dialoguer is concerned about something else. He sees only what unites him to those on the outside, seeing nothing of what separates him from them. Thus, he hopes to gain everything from coexistence and concession, and nothing from battle. His tactic is therefore naive, soft, and concessionist toward those who are outside the flock. His intransigence, energy, and suspicion are reserved only for those who, inside the Church, resist the irenical atmosphere.


c) Third EffectSympathy and Notoriety Resulting from the Effect of Dialogue" in the Media


While the apostle who argues or debates is hated and slandered because of this world of impressions and emotions, the apostle of irenic dialogue is usually considered in exactly the opposite way.

As the public ‑ perhaps now more than ever ‑ is eager for everything that might favor its optimism and its longings for ease and well‑being, it is predisposed to emphatically admire the irenic apostle.

The average man sees the irenic apostle as having a flexible and lucid intelligence that allows him to discern the profound evils of argument and polemics, and to discover the inexhaustible apostolic possibilities of "dialogue." Benevolent and affable, the irenic "dialoguer" gives the impression of being endowed with an irresistible and almost magic appeal. Modern, he is presented as a perfect and agile expert on the most recent tactics of the apostolate, and therefore dexterous in managing "dialogue". In a word, he appears perfectly likeable. He is happy and jovial with prospects of a rosy future prepared by a series of easy and dizzying successes.

Appeal and optimism open the doors of notoriety for our "dialoguer." It is pleasant to talk about him, repeat his words, and praise his actions. He seems to have the gift of resolving the most difficult problems by smiling, and dissipating the most inveterate prejudices and deep seated hatreds with simple speeches as if he were a sun. He thus becomes the center of events, and everyone's attention is focused on him. The press, the radio, and the television gladly feature him certain of pleasing the public.


d) Fourth EffectMirage of the Era of Good Will Appears


All this opens indefinite horizons on the mind of the person subject to the process we are studying, Far away in those horizons, there begins to appear the mirage we have mentioned earlier in this chapter (item 2, A to Q. True, this mirage is generally very vague, but nonetheless radiant and attractive: it is the era of good will, that is, of an "evolved" order of things in which empathy, of which the fullness is love, would not only be capable of frustrating all contentions but also preventing them. Yes, preventing them by eliminating their psychological and institutional causes. How peace and harmony would profit from the suppression of that for which men have fought for thousands of yearscountries, national interests, inheritance, class prestige, symbols of power! If only love could eliminate the words "mine" and "yours" and replace them as outmoded by "ours," peace would reign among men at last, and wars, crimes, punishments, and prisons would disappear. Government would be nothing more than a huge cooperative of spontaneous and harmonious actions favoring prosperity, culture, and health. In the era of good will, the total earthly well‑being of society would be the only purpose of man's endeavors.

This mirage, whose affinity with the anarchist myth inherent to Marxism we already noted (item 2, B), endowed with all the power of suggestion of man's deepest desires, is such that it awakens a delightful emotion in countless souls that holds them fast, and from which they have not the least desire to free themselves, as if they had taken a drug.

The word "dialogue" is thus reclothed in magic and fascinating scintillations when used in this perspective. Like a real talisman it automatically endows those who use it with its prestige and brilliance.


e) Fifth EffectTendency to Abuse the Flexibility of the Word "Dialogue"


These various psychological factors give rise to an ever growing temptation to exaggerate the natural flexibility of the word in question.

Indeed, if a certain effect is obtained by using a certain word, the more it is used, the greater the effect.

Hence, there is a tendency to use the word "dialogue" for everything. Its use can become almost a vice so that an interview, an article, or a speech will not seem complete without some mention of dialogue.


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