Friday, December 28, 2018
Limited Guénonian influence in incoming Brazilian government
Bolsonaro clearly respects Carvalho, as was indicated by the choice of four books that he placed on the table in front of him for his acceptance speech on October 29, 2018, noted by Gaúcha: the Bible, the Brazilian constitution, Winston Churchill’s Memoirs of the Second World War, and Carvalho’s best-selling collection of essays, The Minimum you Need to Know Not to be an Idiot (O mínimo que você precisa saber para não ser um idiota). It is also likely that Carvalho’s recommendation played a part in the appointment of Araújo as foreign minister.
Carvalho, however, is no longer especially Traditionalist. Guénon is cited only twice in his The Minimum you Need to Know, and in a Facebook post in 2016, Carvalho denounced the Traditionalists, including Frithjof Schuon, for making it possible for “a small Islamic intellectual elite to dominate the intellectual elites of all religions… It is a huge power, which claims to be purely spiritual and unrelated to politics, but whose devastating political effects are clearly visible… Islam is already in the midst of a war of occupation.” Only in Carvalho’s consistently negative understandings of modernity can one see any traces of Traditionalism. Alexander Dugin, incidentally, came to similar conclusions in the course of a long on-line debate he held with Carvalho in 2011, which he finally regretting having started under the mistaken impression that Carvalho was “a representative of Brazilian traditionalist philosophers in the line of R. Guenon and J. Evola.”
Foreign Minister Araújo, however, may be a different case. Certainly, when he recommended the reading of Guénon in 2017, this was in an article on “Trump and the West” (“Trump e o Ocidente,” Cadernos de Política Exterior 3, no. 6, 2017, pp. 323-357) in which he commented on the influence of Guénon on Steve Bannon; he recommended the reading of Guénon to understand Bannon and what was going on in America, a position which might equally be taken by an opponent of Traditionalism. The recommended reading at the end of the article, however, tells a different story. It is short—only 13 works—and includes not only Guénon’s Crisis of the Modern World but also Julius Evola’s Metaphysics of War, to which there is a passing reference in the article. Guénon and Evola are joined by Nietzsche and Heidegger, Oswald Spengler, Carl Gustav Jung, and a few others, including Virgil and Aeschylus. Araújo’s blog, Metapolítica 17, does not refer to Guénon or Evola, but its title refers to a key concept originating with the French New Right (also not mentioned by name). Araújo, then, looks like an informed and sympathetic reader of the Traditionalists, at the least. One thing he has taken from Carvalho, however, is a pro-Christian and anti-Islamic position.
The new Brazilian minister of education, also said to have been recommended by Carvalho, is Ricardo Vélez-Rodríguez, a professor emeritus of philosophy who is definitely an intellectual of the Right, but refers to Alexis de Tocqueville rather than to Guénon, and does not show signs of interest in Traditionalism.
My thanks to Daniel Placido for drawing my attention to Araújo.