Do you remember Morris West’s international bestseller, “The Shoes of the Fisherman,” which was later turned into a film with Anthony Quinn as the main character? I am sure most of you have never heard of it. The past vanishes from the public memory faster than ever, making it so that each of us, in our earthly existence, lives through many discontinuous and disconnected lives. World War II refugee Stefan Zweig describes it this way: “All the bridges between our today and our yesterday and our yesteryears have been burnt.” And so the lines that shape the course of history become invisible. The result is that even the most predictable consequence of the most obvious cause can easily hit like a demonic surprise to a stupefied humanity.
The story of Morris West’s novel is as follows: A Ukrainian bishop, recently freed from the Gulag, finds refuge in Rome, becomes a Cardinal, and soon after is elected Pope. Now occupying the throne of Peter, he naturally is required to take sides in all sorts of worldly issues that surround him. The gravest of these is the misery and starvation that has taken millions of lives in China and is leading the Chinese government to work on some deranged plan to destroy western civilization. After spending some time meditating, the Pope decides to sell church property to raise money to feed the Chinese population, thus assuring world peace. The decision is announced in a triumphant speech from the wide opened windows of Saint Peter.
For now, let us ignore the ludicrous assumptions that the sale of church goods could ever be enough to save the largest population on Earth from misery, and that Chinese leadership would give up their war plans at the exact moment that they are given the resources to make them a reality. The first of these assumptions is based on a complete ignorance of the fact that, in a universal banking system, the Vatican Bank is a mere nothing and is easily manipulated by large international fortunes. The second is based on the stupid idea that the Chinese war against the rest of the world is a natural and just reaction to economic tragedy brought about, as Morris West supposes, by evil westerners, not by the Chinese revolutionaries who had only recently destroyed seventy million of their fellow citizens.
Lets ignore the question of whether Morris West was a useful idiot, or one of thousands of clever agents of influence planted at all levels of western society by the intelligence services of China and the USSR. What matters is that the wild success of this book/film in 1968 was almost certainly responsible for planting the idea in the mind of the American Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger to convince his boss, President Richard Nixon, to visit China in 1972, to reestablish commercial and diplomatic relations with the communist dictatorship of Beijing.
After Nixon’s visit, with the financial aid of the American government and the majestic investments of a large number of western capitalists, China finally was able to climb out of the gutter. The capitalist west enabled China to turn into the economic and military power which today is able to nonchalantly announce its modest intention to dominate the world.
All this shows the link between the dominant culture, the language of the media, the decisions of those in charge, and the choices of investors. A few of the better analysts of the day did try to expose the situation, but they were branded as conspiracy theorists.
Under Bill Clinton’s administration, when American investments in China reached their highest levels, many asked if pouring money into the deadliest dictatorship in the world couldn’t be considered a crime against humanity, and if it wouldn’t risk destroying western civilization.
The answer from capitalists, fashionable as always, was that the liberation of the economy would transform China into a capitalist democracy not unlike what exists in the U.S. This capitalist illusion would never have seemed plausible if the so called “duty to help” the Chinese government had not already been suggested to the western morons as a christian obligation so vital and unavoidable that it would justify the financial self destruction of the Catholic Church.
Today we watch, surprised, the resourcefulness and speed with which China is becoming a power that can decide, at its leisure, the destiny of dozens of nations by engineering alarmism about a virus that they created and are responsible for spreading.
Olavo de Carvalho
March 30th, 2020
Translation by Pedro de Carvalho