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Parassitismo culturale: la libertà religiosa e il paradosso di Salvemini
Luigi Corvaglia Il termine “parassita” denota un essere che vive rubando nutrimento all’organismo che lo ospita. Da ciò l’ovvia connotazione negativa dell’etichetta quando è tratta fuori dalla biologia e attribuita a persone, o a classi di persone, per esprimere la loro attitudine a trarre vantaggio dal lavoro altrui. E’ infatti assunzione condivisa che si tratti di persone disprezzabili. Si può estendere questa connotazione anche a chi trae subdolamente forza propulsiva per la propria azione dallo sfruttamanto di ambiti culturali che non gli appartengono, o addirittura avversa. Un esempio di parassitismo culturale di questo tipo ce lo fornisce la geniale sentenza di Gaetano Salvemini il quale disse “Il clericale domanda la libertà per sé in nome del principio liberale, salvo a sopprimerla negli altri, non appena gli sia possibile, in nome del principio clericale” . In due righe, questo gigante del liberalismo metteva in luce il paradosso insito nella pretesa di difendere la subordinazione in nome della libertà e, al contempo, evidenziava l’ipocrisia di chi non si limita a sfruttare i benefici che derivano dalla società laica, ma ne scimmiotta anche fraudolentemente le formule.
Fosse ancora fra noi, l’antifascista pugliese avrebbe di che rimanere sconcertato e sgomento davanti alla constatazione di come il suo avviso sia rimasto inascoltato. Infatti, la legione di sodalizi chiusi che richiedono di essere difesi dalle pretese dello stato di diritto in nome dei principi della società aperta sono cresciute a dismisura. Non è più solo la religione organizzata della tradizione a godere dell’impegno di difensori laici ed atei devoti, ma sono addirittura le “sette” più totalitarie e abusanti! Da Scientology in giù, a godere dei servigi di sedicenti partigiani delle libertà civili sono congreghe estremamente discusse che definire democratiche e rispettose dei diritti degli adepti prevede la totale mancanza del senso del pudore. La lista dei beneficiari di questa azione protettiva non riserva grandi sorprese. Si va da culti ricchi e potenti, come Scientology o la Chiesa dell’Unificazione , alla miriade di conventicole new age che hanno giocato un importante ruolo nella disinformazione sul Covid 19, passando per i culti ufologici e le varie denominazioni cristiane di frangia. Maggiori sorprese riserva la lista di coloro i quali si impegnano a sciorinare le parole d’ordine della società liberal-democratica, la più abusata delle quali è la formula “libertà religiosa”, per difendere queste organizzazioni dalle attenzioni non benevole dell’opinione pubblica e della magistratura. Si tratta spesso di esponenti della reazione e del tradizionalismo cattolico improvvisamente folgorati sulla via di Damasco dalla “deregulation” religiosa. Anelano ad un “multi-cultismo” che è la versione mignon del multiculturalismo: isole sociali esonerate dal rispetto dei diritti civili all’interno delle democrazie avanzate. Certo, si suol dire che “cane non morde cane”, ma qui siamo ben oltre la non belligeranza. Infatti, fa una certa impressione sentire e leggere proclami libertari ed ecumenici pronunciati da esponenti della reazione più retriva e della fede più intransigente. L’analogia col multiculturalismo quindi continua. Infatti, la difesa della libertà religiosa da parte di esponenti di versioni non ecumeniche della propria fede richiama la difesa del “diritto alla differenza” delle altre culture da parte della destra identitaria. Sembra rispetto per le altre culture, ma è “differenzialismo”, cioè la posizione di chi intende preservare le differenze culturali dai processi di omologazione delle società moderne.
Solo per restare in Italia, Paese che con gli Stati Uniti è l’osservatorio privilegiato di questo paradosso, si può segnalare l’attività di una ONG devota alla promozione della libertà religiosa che ha fra i fondatori un esponente apicale di Scientology e fra i suoi membri una associazione il cui leader è attualmente ricercato dall’Interpol per accuse di violenza sessuale e traffico di minori. In questo paese più che in ogni altro nel mondo si è condotta una campagna a favore della chiesa messicana “ La Luz del Mundo ”, ritenuta oggetto di diffamazione da parte di un immaginario “movimento anti-sette”. Il leader di questa chiesa, Naason Garcia , è stato arrestato e condannato nel 2019 per svariati capi di imputazione relativi a violenze e pornografia infantile; ciò avveniva due settimane dopo aver ricevuto, in Italia, un premio per essersi distinto per le opere di carità e nella difesa della “libertà religiosa”. A premiare l’ “apostolo” Garcia fu il Centro Studi Nuove Religioni (CESNUR) di Torino, una celebrata istituzione devota alla ricerca sociologica nell’ ambito di quelli che definisce, in modo politicamente corretto, “Nuovi Movimenti religiosi”. Le radici del CESNUR affondano nella associazione tradizionalista Alleanza Cattolica .
Vivere alle spalle della cultura libertaria è facile nell’Occidente contemporaneo. Il gioco è semplice. Asserire che l’individuo è libero di scegliere della propria vita e di aderire al gruppo che desidera è cosa che pone il parlante in buona luce, perché il concetto è parte del complesso concettuale vincente della nostra epoca. Pertanto, pochi contesterebbero tale asserzione. La mimesi è quindi assolutamente efficace. Vanno però fatte due osservazioni. La prima riguarda il concetto di “scelta”. Anche ammessa la razionalità delle scelte individuali, concetto già rigettato dalla psicologia sperimentale (Kahneman e Tversky, 1979), l’applicazione di forme di razionalità al campo della adesione ad un credo è inammissibile. Il proselitismo viaggia su altri canali, facendo leva su aspetti periferico-emotivi piuttosto che centrali e logici (Cacioppo e Petty, 1984). D’altro canto, lo studio dei modelli evoluzionistici che spiegano la diffusione delle idee come unità di informazione autoreplicantesi (definite “meme”), utilizza la metafora del contagio per spiegare la diffusione di complessi concettuali come le fedi (Dawkins, 1991; Blackmore, 1999; Brodie, 2009; Diem, 2023). E’ un processo, quindi, in cui la capacità di replicazione delle idee non avviene sulla base del fatto che queste sono le più razionali o le più adatte, ma sul presupposto che sono quelle che più sanno sopravvivere e replicarsi. Questa qualità dipende molto da suggestioni irrazionali e influenze sociali. Basta quindi che esista una leadership interessata allo sfruttamento degli adepti perché si realizzi una condizione di rischio manipolatorio. Non è un caso che la maggior parte degli sforzi dei difensori dei culti siano diretti a propagandare l’idea della non scientificità della “manipolazione mentale” sulla scorta di valutazioni sociologiche (Barker, 1984). Purtroppo per loro, la materia che sul campo della persuasione ha maggior pertinenza, ossia la psicologia, ha da tempo dimostrato la sua esistenza (Cacioppo e Petty, 1984; T ajfel, H., & Turner, 2004; Budzynska e Wege , 2011; Kahneman, 2012; Cialdini, 2017; Sharot, 2018).
Quindi, l'argomento “libertario” è costruito su una premessa non scientifica.
La seconda osservazione deriva da una analisi più approfondita della mimesi attuata dagli apologeti delle sette quando impersonano i liberali. Guardando meno distrattamente la cosa ne risulta l’evidente impostura. E’ utile a tal proposito leggere l’uomo che più efficacemente espresse il concetto per cui qualunque intrusione nelle scelte personali è inammissibile, cioè Lysander Spooner . Il noto abolizionista della schiavitù iniziava il suo classico pamphlet libertario I vizi non sono crimini con queste parole:
I vizi sono quelle azioni con le quali un uomo danneggia sé stesso e i suoi averi. I crimini sono quelle azioni con le quali un uomo danneggia la persona o gli averi di un altro. I vizi sono semplicemente gli errori che un uomo commette nella ricerca della propria felicità. A differenza dei crimini, essi non implicano malvagità nei confronti degli altri né alcuna interferenza con la loro persona o i loro averi.
In altri termini, una cosa è “commettere errori nella ricerca della felicità” senza arrecare danno alla persona ed alla proprietà altrui, cosa che nessuno ha il diritto di impedire se non è portatore di un paternalismo e di un’ etica del principio , per dirla con Weber, altro è danneggiare “la persona e gli averi altrui” con “malvagità”. L’encomiabile intento del libertario Spooner era di distinguere le due condizioni perché non venissero puniti i vizi invece dei crimini. Questo è esattamente il contrario di quanto vogliono gli apologeti dei culti. La difesa pregiudiziale dei gruppi spirituali che questi operano, infatti, rischia di confondere i due piani e far sparire i crimini, cioè l’azione dei leader totalitari che mirano a danneggiare “la persona e gli averi di un altro”. In nome della “libertà”, si ottiene così quella situazione che James Joyce definì “libera volpe in libero pollaio”. Articolo pubblicato il 27 Luglio 2023 su MicroMega col titolo Il parassitismo culturale degli enti e delle sette religiose
Pills of logic: The reliability of 'apostates' in a nutshell
Luigi Corvaglia An important criticism of researchers on totalitarian cults is that much of the information available to them comes from apostates , i.e. former members who have left the cult (Melton and Moore, 1982). Apostates are considered unreliable because they have motives to denigrate the cult, otherwise they would have stayed in it. In practise, the reason given is that one cannot take at face value the description of the ex-spouse gathered by the other spouse. Either the latter has a poisoned tooth and his or her description will never be benevolent. The objection makes sense, but it is true that if a wife alleges that her husband is abusing her, there is no reason to be biased in favour of her husband. Every allegation must be proven and all testimony must be carefully examined. Therefore, if there is to be mistrust, it should go both ways. And even if one is bitter and therefore has a motive to speak ill of a group to which one used to belong, that does not automatically mean that one is in bad faith. As it says in an unpublished text by an Italian author: If one did not make use of the testimonies of former members, checked and balanced, of course, by sources within the movement under study, the study of political parties would be impossible (the books of Amedeo Bordiga, Angelo Tasca, Lev Trtozky, Ignazio Silone, Enzo Bettiza, all the anti-Stalinist 'apostates', some of whom remained communists and others not, are studied in order to understand the other side of the coin of the pro-Soviet and Soviet communist parties, as a counterweight to the writings of ardent communists), the fight against the mafia or certain organisations considered dangerous[. ...] Who better than a former member can in fact reveal the secrets of a religious cult to the outside world? [...]It is therefore necessary to evaluate the testimonies in a different way, based on their number, their consistency and the degree of matching [...]. Singer (1996) wrote instead that Cult apologists blame the victims and protect the villains. Like mad old kings, they shoot the messenger who brings bad news. One of the most illogical positions of apologists is their claim that only current members of a cult are telling the truth. However, the findings of many researchers, as well as my many interviews with former members, show that members of a cult are so dependent on the group when they are inside that they dare not tell the truth, dare not complain. For his part, Beit-Hallahmi comments: Recent and less recent disasters involving the NRM help us to understand that in each and every case the claims of hostile outsiders and detractors were closer to reality than any other account. Since the Jonestown tragedy, the testimony of former members has proven more accurate than that of the NRMs' apologists and researchers. In Japan, the 'apostates' had denounced the danger of an attack by AUM years before the nerve gas attack in the Tokyo underground. They complained to the police, who did not intervene because AUM was a 'religion'. In 1978, Deborah Layton Blakey, an apostate of the ReverendJ ones People's Temple, predicted the possibility of a mass suicide in Jonestown. She had stated this to the US Embassy in Georgetown, Guyana, and then made an affidavit in the US, months before the massacre. Finally, a terminological note that gains importance in the light of Lakoff 's (2004) reading on framing , i.e. how words activate mental frames that elicit emotions and consequent evaluations. I refer to the term 'apostate' itself. Introvigne (1999) states that : Although many such ex-members resent being called "apostates" the term is technical, not derogatory, and has been used for some decades, as documented in a recent excellent volume edited by David Bromley (1998). In other words, the term sounds pejorative, but it is not, because they use it. Strangely, however, the author continues like this: Although perhaps terms other than "apostates" may be used in the future, some sort of term is necessary in order to distinguish between "apostates" and other ex-members who do not turn against their former group. It follows that the 'technical' term strangely fits only former members who are dissatisfied with their former experience in a group. Former members who do not complain do not deserve such a technical and non-pejorative term, which applies only to the dissatisfied. If the term were only a synonym for ex-member, as the author claims, it would be worthless and applied to everyone. However, if it is only applied to disgruntled former members and resentful ex-members, it is hard to argue that it is a technical and worthless term. What is certain is that the word 'apostate' triggers resentment and untrustworthiness, which a priori undermine the claims of former members (the disgruntled, the other are trustworthy). In practise, this is what is called poisoning the wells . See also: Pills of logic: "Mind manipulation cannot be objectified!" A reply while waiting for the green light Pills of logic: The argument 'an open society cannot censor cults' debunked in three moves Pills of logic: The myth of 'brainwashing is a myth' debunked in two moves
Pills of logic: The argument 'an open society cannot censor cults' debunked in three moves
Luigi Corvaglia The argument is simple: in an open society, individuals are free to determine their own lives and join the group of their choice. The syllogism proposed by some advocates of religious freedom automatically leads to the labelling of opponents of restrictive practises and sectarian abuse of power as enemies of religious freedom and free choice, and thus illiberals. The reference to 'fascism' is not even too veiled. It is worth looking more closely at the components of this argument. The first concerns the free choice of the individual. 1 - Every individual must be free to make their own life choices. Any interference is illegitimate and totalitarian. This is undeniable within the framework of a liberal society. Everyone must be free to make the choices they want, including those that might harm them, such as joining a destructive cult or taking addictive substances. The man who expressed this concept most effectively in the 19th century was Lysander Spooner , author of Vices Are Not Crimes. The noted abolitionist of slavery began his classic libertarian pamphlet with these words: Vices are the acts by which a man harms himself and his property. Crimes are the acts by which a man harms the person or property of another. Vices are simply the mistakes a person makes in the pursuit of happiness. Unlike crimes, they do not involve malice towards others or harm to their person or property. In other words, it is one thing to 'commit mistakes in the pursuit of happiness' without harming the person and property of others, which no one has the right to prevent unless he or she is the bearer of paternalism and an ethic of principle, as Weber puts it, it is quite another to harm 'the person and property of others' with 'malice'. The laudable intention of the libertarian Spooner was to distinguish the two conditions, lest vice be punished instead of crime. However, the prejudicial defence of cults runs the risk of confusing the two levels and making crimes disappear, because the actions of totalitarian leaders aimed at harming 'the person and property of another' are crimes. In the name of 'freedom', this creates the situation that James Joyce called a 'free fox in a free henhouse'. 2 - With regard to religious freedom, one of the greatest and most central achievements of the society that emerged from the liberal revolutions of the 17th century, it is always worth quoting one of the greatest exponents of liberal thought and defenders of secularism, Gaetano Salvemini : The clericalist demands freedom for himself in the name of the liberal principle, only to suppress it as quickly as possible in others in the name of the clerical principle. If the sharp notation of this giant of liberalism was about the Church's claim to interfere in secular affairs by claiming the right to illiberality based on liberal principles, the paradox appears even more grotesque and blatant when the claim is made by groups known or discussed for harassing or dangerous practises for their followers. It is clear that the "new religious movements" have no reason to be defended, because in the liberal democratic framework, freedom of religious is intangible. Those that need to be defended are abusive and totalitarian cults, i.e. groups where abuse and harassment take place. This defence becomes necessary for abusive cults precisely because they operate in a liberal democratic system that condemns abuse and harassment . 3 - So, returning to the issue of liberalism and individual rights, we finally find that some defenders of what they call NRMs are completely identical to the defenders of cultural differentialism , the political concept that is the proudest and bitterest enemy precisely for liberalism and universal rights. The differentialist defends the ' right to difference ' of all cultures, i.e. they want the preservation of peoples' identities. Even though, like the statements of the 'NRMs', this may seem like a commitment to universalism and ecumenism, the differentialists are an enemy of the open society. That is, the differentialist believes that 'foreigners' should be preserved as such, living 'among themselves' and retaining their own cultural references and values because they are 'different' and must remain so. they defend their 'right to be different' in order to prevent other cultures from mixing or merging with theirs. This is called differentialist racism . This differentialism, which is a defence of one's own closed group, also defends other closed groups against the state, against the demands of the open society, so that it does not interfere with one's own group as well. Behind the libertarian and respectful proclamations of allogeneic cultures, this conception aims at the restoration and defence of individual cultures, so that they become a counterweight to globalist ideology; that is, precisely to the universalism of human rights. Just as it is not surprising that the proponents of differentialism are representatives of the far political right who coin their own incongruent version of 'multiculturalism', it is also not surprising that the defenders of the 'right to difference' of 'cults' are often representatives of visions that are anything but ecumenical and propose their own incongruent version of 'ecumenism' . These, in fact, propose a 'multicultism' that is the mignon version of the multiculturalism of the Nouvelle Droite , but more akin to what Italians call "Pax Mafiosa". Thus it happens that the representatives of the most closed, illiberal and incompatible cults find themselves in the same associations for the defence of religious freedom. High-ranking members of notoriously destructive cults, traditionalist Catholics, Satanists, tantric sex gurus, followers of religions who believe that those who do not follow their beliefs are eternally damned, closed and intransigent micro-communities, all together (passionately) against those who denounce exploitation. In the name of the open society. See also: Pills of logic: "Mind manipulation cannot be objectified!" A reply while waiting for the green light Pills of logic: The reliability of 'apostates' in a nutshell Pills of logic: The myth of 'brainwashing is a myth' debunked in two moves
Pills of logic: The myth of 'brainwashing is a myth' debunked in two moves
Luigi Corvaglia Massimo Introvigne (1993), who proposes a dichotomy between a secular anti-cult movement and a religious counter-cult movement , has found the most ingenious way to propose the concept that anti-cultists believe in a magical phenomenon, that is mind manipulation. Namely, he combines the division 'secular-religious' with a division into 'rationalist' and 'post-rationalist' movements. Rationalists, according to the author, are those who believe that 'cults' recruit their followers through deception. Deception is not supernatural, ergo rational. So there will be both anti-cult and counter-cult rationalist movements. Introvigne writes: Anti-cultists emphasize the secular features of the fraud (e.g., "bogus" miracles) and the counter-cultists its religious elements (e.g., "manipulating" the Scriptures), but the fraud explanation remains prominen Instead, movements that imagine superhuman or supernatural intervention to explain cult success are called post-rationalist . Post-rationalist counter-cult movements theorise the intervention of Satan. The devil is the supernatural explanation favoured by the religious. Regarding secular critics, whom he calls anti-cults, the author writes: For their secular counterparts of the anti-cult movement, "cultists" have the more-than-human power of "brainwashing" their victims, but, as it has been noted, "brainwashing" in some anti-cult theories appears as something magical, the modern version of the evil eye An extraordinary coup de théâtre! First we are presented with a dichotomy that is simplistic but loaded with meaning. This is then articulated in a further division that produces four boxes: two for the rationalists and two for the post-rationalists, as if there were two floors of a building in which one flat is occupied by religious people and one by secularists. Introvigne describes the tenants of the first floor, the rationalists, as very similar because they use explanations of the same kind; but he claims to perform the same operation with the tenants of the second floor, the supposed post-rationalists, who do not resemble each other in any way. Only a very low critical alertness can let this analogy pass. Satan's intervention is indeed a supernatural idea, mind manipulation a scientific theory. It is true that neither hypothesis is universally accepted, but the first is not because it is not falsifiable according to Popper's definition, while the second is up for debate precisely because it is falsifiable; therefore it is a scientific hypothesis. Most remarkably, however, the normal logical processes are reversed in the description presented here. Instead of arriving at the conclusion that the manipulation theory is irrational through a series of successive logical steps, the discourse merely spins the argument by setting this irrationality as a premise! Thus a tautology is realised that cannot prove anything. This kind of mind game is made possible by the vague presentation of the concept of undue persuasion and by the malicious depiction of manipulation as a kind of magical technique as seen in the film 'The Manchurian Candidate'. No one believes in the induction of a human automaton state. Let us start with the concept of undue persuasion. We often hear that anti-cults want to limit something natural, necessary and all-pervasive in every human relationship, namely persuasion. The biggest mistake in the discussion on this topic is to define persuasion as a construct consisting of only one dimension. It is necessary to introduce another dimension that is not taken into account, namely the dimension of the persuader's interest. This is a construct that we can schematise on an axis whose two poles are egoism (self-interest) and altruism (interest in the other). The introduction of this new dimension greatly expands the range of connotations and expressions of persuasion (Corvaglia, 2019). These can be mapped spatially by crossing two axes in the tradition of circumscribed models commonly used in psychology (Fig. 1). If we place persuasive engagement on the horizontal axis and attitude towards one's own personal benefit on the vertical axis, we get four quadrants. If we imagine persuasive engagement (or work of influence) growing to the right along the horizontal axis and selfish motivation growing from the bottom up along the vertical axis, the quadrants in the left half of the picture represent the area of minimal persuasive engagement. We call this the area of disengagement or non-influence. In fact, the combination of high egoism and low influence on the other (upper left quadrant) leads to indifference , which is the negative version of disengagement ('I do not control you because I do not care'). Then there is another quality of disengagement, which we might call 'altruistic disengagement', which is an expression of respect for the other ('I do not control you because I respect you'). We see this illustrated in the left quadrant below. The right-hand side of the figure is the area of influence, for it describes the work of persuasion, both benign and malign. The former is the combination of selflessness and concern for the other. It is the quadrant of education or care (below). Parental education, which is directed towards the education of the offspring, but also the care of the educators, are expressions of this. The various forms of proselytism and religious or political education of groups sincerely directed towards social or spiritual care and improvement also find their place in this benevolent quadrant. The upper right quadrant, created by the combination of high persuasion and self-interest, is the area of control . This is where the various forms of conversion and indoctrination aimed at mental control and membership of closed, totalitarian groups are located. This is the quadrant that encompasses the behaviour that can be called ' undue persuasion '. This self-serving persuasion can be assigned the term mind manipulation, which can be understood as a metaphor for this conversion aimed at exploitation. At the same time, mind manipulation is the use of persuasion techniques that are not specific to totalitarian cults to achieve this goal. This drops any argument of 'you want to limit persuasion'. Finally, the portrayal of mind control as a magical technique serves to paint the image of the person who denounces undue persuasion as someone who spreads superstition detached from any scientificity. Ultimately, those who question the 'magical' idea of mental manipulation, in good or bad faith, are fighting a non-existent enemy. A strategy known as the ' straw man argument '. It is a trick used by those who want to win an argument without arguing about its content. It works by attributing an argument to the opponent that the opponent never made. The thesis, of course, must not only be false, but also patently absurd, grotesque or ridiculous and therefore easily refuted. In the case of the apologists, the puppet is 'brainwashing'. No one has ever argued this point. Not as they describe it. What constitutes an abusive and totalitarian group is not some magical technique, but the deliberate building of a system to select and lead followers in slow and gradual steps, playing on guilt and shame (Corvaglia, 2020). This may not be 'brainwashing', but it is certainly manipulation, certainly undue persuasion, because it is aimed at exploitation. This cannot be denied by claiming that it is a myth that has been disproved by science. We are talking here about mechanisms known to neuroscience, social psychology, behavioural economics by Kahneman (1979, 2011) - who won a Nobel Prize for revealing the systematic errors (biases) and irrational heuristics of our brains used by marketing and propaganda - and cognitive linguistics by Lakoff (2004), which emphasises the persuasive nature of language. As Zimbardo (2002) wrote as president of the American Psychological Association (APA) in a well-known editorial , Mind control is the process by which individual or collective freedom of choice and action is compromised by agents or agencies that modify or distort perception, motivation, affect, cognition and/or behavioral outcomes. It is neither magical nor mystical, but a process that involves a set of basic social psychological principles.Conformity, compliance, persuasion, dissonance, reactance, guilt and fear arousal, modeling and identification are some of the staple social influence ingredients well studied in psychological experiments and field studies. Anyone who denies this must be very ignorant or very malicious. See also: Pills of logic: "Mind manipulation cannot be objectified!" A reply while waiting for the green light Pills of logic: The argument 'an open society cannot censor cults' debunked in three moves Pills of logic: The reliability of 'apostates' in a nutshell
Pills of logic: "Mind manipulation cannot be objectified!" A reply while waiting for the green light
Luigi Corvaglia A red traffic light is a good opportunity to reflect. The following was one of my recent musings: The argument is that manipulation cannot be objectified. This is because there is no identifiable boundary above or below which we can be sure whether or not undue persuasion has taken place. All of social life - they say - is about persuasion. Choosing a partner, a political vote, buying a jacket, an outing among friends, etc., every shared action and exchange between individuals involves persuasion. These observations are irrefutable. What is refutable are the conclusions that cult apologists draw from them. They conclude that there is no manipulation ("No criteria for manipulation? No manipulation"," "All influenced? No one influenced"). The argumentation is rather naive. In fact, it is obvious that things and phenomena exist or do not exist regardless of our ability to objectify them. Let us consider two examples: The first is that of economic exploitation. Is a worker who is willing to work for a low wage exploited or not? The lower the work alternatives and the remuneration offered, the more certain one is that the employer is exploiting the worker's plight. Nevertheless, there is no objective distinction between exploitation and non-exploitation, given also that the worker willingly accepts or even explicitly demands that the employer benefits from his situation. This lack of objectification does not mean that there is no exploitation; in other words, the blurring of the boundary does not render the term "exploitation" meaningless, regardless of the moral evaluation we may make. Exploitation, understood as taking advantage by preventing a non-hostile person from gaining a potentially possible benefit, is an undeniable fact. The majority of people regard exploitation as something negative, something abhorrent. Not averyone. Walter Block (1995), who is an "anarcho-capitalist", for example, provides an interesting defence of the "dirty capitalist exploiter of labour" in his book "Defending the Indefensible". However one views the phenomenon, positively (as the anarcho-capitalists do) or negatively (according to many others), it exists, regardless of the fact that it cannot be objectified. The second example of a phenomenon that cannot be objectified but exists is psychiatric disorders. It is hard to deny that schizophrenia is a disease that is severe and painful and causes suffering to the whole environment of the person affected. Yet there is no biological test or objective examination to prove it. There is the clinic. There are the symptoms. But again, the line between pathology and non-pathology is blurred. Psychiatrist Allen Frances (2013), who is very critical of diagnostic excesses, writes: Some radical critics of psychiatry have exploited the ambiguities in its definitions to argue that the profession should not exist at all. They argue that the difficulty of finding an unambiguous definition of a mental disorder proves that the concept is without utility or meaning: if mental disorders are not anatomically defined diseases, then they are "myths" and it is better not to bother diagnosing them. This is exactly the same claim made by apologists in relation to mental manipulation. If it cannot be clearly defined, then it is a "myth" and it is "better not to bother" to diagnose it. So Frances continues: This position is particularly attractive to libertarians who want to protect patients' freedom of choice from the shackles of psychiatric slavery. Again, the overlap with the discourse of undue persuasion is complete. The "libertarians" invoke the "free choice". Again Frances: This paradox can only be believed by stubborn theorists who have no experience of mental illness and have never treated it. Similarly can be said of those who go to the paradox of denying undue persuasion. What should be the approach to a phenomenon with indistinct boundaries is clearly explained by Frances: The best way to understand the nature of a mental disorder - what it is and what it is not - is to compare the approach of three linesmen to offside and regular positions. Epistemology largely boils down to a dispute of opinion about our ability to understand reality. Linesman 1: "There are regular positions and offside, and I whistle them for what they are." Linesman 2: "There are regular positions and offsides, and I whistle them when I see them." Guard 3: "There are no regular positions or offsides until I whistle them." Linesman 1 thinks mental disorders are "diseases"; Linesman 3 thinks they are imaginary myths; Linesman 2 thinks they are middle ground: constructs that provide nothing more (and nothing less) than the best available hypothesis to solve psychiatric problems. Linesman 1 has great faith in our ability to grasp the true nature of things [...]. Linesaman 3 offers us the opposite perspective: the scepticism and solipsistic doubt of those who believe that man will never be able to grab protean reality by the tail or recognise it for what it really is. (...) Linesman 2 "whistles offside when he sees it" Transferred to the field of undue persuasion, the apologists' position is that of Linesman 3: "scepticism and solipsistic doubt"," commonplaces of a "salon" libertarianism. For these authors, manipulation is a "myth". Some anti-cult activists, on the other hand, appear to us as Linesman 1, who believes he can objectify and understand the phenomenon. Common sense requires us to be Linesman 2 who follows "a very concrete version of utilitarian pragmatism." Indeed, despite the indeterminacy of a "grey area" between belief where no doubts about legitimacy arise and belief where doubts about legitimacy arise, there are cases where many presumptive clues make the malignity of induction obvious. These are offsides that can be seen and should be whistled. That there is no difference between hot and cold water does not mean that the two conditions cannot be distinguished. However, the reasoning of some is comparable to that of someone who puts ten men in a row under ten showers of increasing heat and lashes out at the burnt man in the last cubicle, shouting that there is no objective criterion for defining when water is too hot. The classic ideological style: if the facts do not fit the theory, so much the worse for the facts. Then the green light came.
Double truth and noble lie: The political roots of CESNUR
Luigi Corvaglia Wherever there is a spiritual group that opposes allegations of abuse or crime of any kind, CESNUR is on hand. For example, the well-known study centre is currently very present in the Japanese media, where its founder Massimo Introvigne is defending Reverend Moon's Unification Church to the hilt against accusations that it is in any way connected to the assassination of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe . However, CESNUR's credibility is being questioned because of this wealthy non-profit association's alleged links to Alleanza Cattolica , the traditionalist Catholic group of which Introvigne himself was a leader, and to the counter-revolutionary organisation Tradition, Family and Property of the Brazilian Plinio Correa de Oliveira . The following excursus will attempt to shed light on this aspect and the resulting paradox, namely that an association originating from conservative Catholic circles defends cults that are far removed from Catholicism. a) Ousset and La Cité catholique In 2011, Introvigne writes an article in 'Cristianità', the magazine of Alleanza Cattolica, on the 50th anniversary of Jean Ousset 's major work, "Pour qu'Il règne": [...] Giovanni Cantoni, who knows and appreciates Ousset and Pour qu'Il règne , opts for Corrêa de Oliveira's Revolution and Counter-Revolution when choosing a reference manual for his association. The latter is short and sums up counter-revolutionary doctrine in the form of a thesis. The lavish richness of Pour qu'Il règne not only makes it a less handy resource, but - by accompanying each thesis with numerous historical references - it runs the risk of remaining tied to a particular developmental phase of historiography, fatally ageing in this respect. In practise, according to Introvigne himself, de Oliveira's work served as a "manual" for the followers of AC. A little later, however, he adds: [...] Ousset's name thus remains little known in Italy, even if some Italian Alleanza Cattolica members came into contact with him in the 1970s. In that decade, the Lausanne congresses, for which Ousset was the main animator for a long time, were an important date for Alleanza Cattolica members. In a personal communication Introvigne affirmed to me that Ousset's teaching was as important to AC as that of de Oliveira. It will then be interesting to explore the other tributary of CESNUR’s river. Jean Ousset was a member of Action française . This is a far-right nationalist and monarchist movement that supports the House of Orleans. During the German occupation of France, Ousset fully adhered to the Vichy regime of Marshal Philippe Pétain - he later said he had nothing to apologise for. This was a satellite state of the Third Reich. On 29 July 1946, Jean Ousset founded the Centre for Critical Studies and Synthesis with Denis Demarque and Jean Masson, and later became the leader of La Cité catholique , a counter-revolutionary Catholic association whose aim was not active politics but pre-politics. Their organisation was based on the infiltration of the elites , who were the only ones capable of leading the reconquest of a society in difficulty. Its members formed autonomous 'cells': small groups that met to study the work of the Master and spread his ideas in their respective circles (soldiers, students, leaders, etc.). The Cité catholique consisted of a small but highly motivated core of militants rooted in the Grandes écoles, those still forming the ruling class, and in the armed forces, especially the cavalry and navy, the traditionally "legitimist" (loyal to the monarchy) sectors. The cité catholique approach provided the frame of reference for the new doctrine, as the far-right group identified ' subversion ' as the root of all evil and the enemy of civilisation. Subversion (of the Christian order, natural law and the Creator's plan) had its origins in the French Revolution. It was no coincidence that the organisation's journal, 'Verbe', described itself as a civic training organ for the counterrevolution. The elaborations of the Cité catholique inspired an association that had been founded a few months earlier in Madrid under the protection of Franco's fascist government, the OAS (Organisation armée secrète). The OAS was a French clandestine paramilitary organisation active during the Algerian war and had as its slogan 'French Algeria or death'. It caused about 1,500 deaths in fifteen months through terrorist attacks of unprecedented cruelty. After the Evian Agreement between the French government and the Algerian Liberation Front became known, the OAS decided to attempt an assassination on De Gaulle, considered a traitor. This last gasp of action failed and the organization dispersed. The proximity of Catholic traditionalism to murders and terrorist attacks may seem strange, but here lies the most interesting aspect. In Catholic circles linked to the military hierarchies, for example, the practice of torture in Algeria was considered worthy of absolution on the basis of the thought of Aristotle, Thomas Aquinas and Augustine of Hippo. Louis Delarue, chaplain of a unit deployed in Algeria, said that one had to choose between two evils, and making a bandit who deserved the death penalty suffer temporarily was the lesser one. Probably the best justification is provided by St Thomas Aquinas' doctrine of the double effect : "The evil produced by an action directed towards the good does not invalidate the morality of the action itself". So we are dealing with the following key elements: elitism, pre-politics (work of cultural influence on the elite), counter-revolution and justification of reprehensible actions through philosophical explanations (especially St Thomas). We will return to these elements. The main representatives of the OAS, including the various members of the Citè catholique who belonged to it, will find hospitality and scope for their theories among the coup regimes of Latin America. b) Plinio Correa de Oliveira and Tradition, Family and Property It is precisely in Latin America that we find the other Alleanza Cattolica reference: Plinio Correa de Oliveira and his Tradition, Family and Property ( TFP) . It is well known that the TFP is waging the same struggle against modernity, which de Oliveira defines not as "subversion" but as "revolution". De Oliveira argues that Christianity has undergone a dramatic spiritual decline since the fifteenth century (the "revolution"), due to the spread of social egalitarianism and moral liberalism, which put an end to the righteousness that had characterised mediaeval society. What is needed is the complete restoration of Christian civilisation through the reintroduction of social hierarchies and aristocratic titles and the dissolution of the socialist parties. De Oliveira was the bearer of a program for the 'restoration of order', which was described as a return to a Christian civilisation, austere and hierarchical, fundamentally sacred, anti-egalitarian and anti-liberal. The actions of Tradition, Family and Property are essentially political: in Brazil, for example, the organisation was very active in land reform in the 2000s. It sided with the big landowners, the fazendeiros , against the sem terra (landless) movement; this struggle was accompanied by a fight against gun control. According to the historian Orlando Fedeli , who was a member for thirty years, Tradition, Family and Property would be a millenarian and gnostic cult . Indeed, it would have an external doctrine and a secret teaching reserved for the highest levels of knowledge. De Oliveira's 'esoteric' teachings, which can also be read in the journal 'Dr Plinio' edited by Monsignor João Scognamiglio Clá Dias, focused on the ' metaphysical superiority ' of the nobility, especially the South American landed gentry. One can see how this faithfully traces both the Platonic hierarchy and the Gnostic idea of salvation reserved for the 'spiritual' alone (and condemnation partly for the 'psychic' and entirely for the 'ilical'). The anti-egalitarianism of the TFP generates in the activists a contempt for class , a taste for luxury and idleness . In the Joyeux report on the TFP school of Saint Benoit, we read that hardness of heart and a blatant hatred of ordinary people characterise the daily behaviour of the majority of TFP activists. Everything that is luxury, splendour and idleness is seen as counter-revolutionary and triggers a sense of pride that comes from feeling that one belongs to a destined elite. Indeed, since the revolutionary mentality is characterised by a virulent glorification of pauperism, the TFP acts by systematically affirming the opposite. To understand De Oliveira's elitism, one only has to know that he never supported 'integrism', the Brazilian version of fascism, because he considered it too 'interclass' and 'socialist' and little open to the demands of the metaphysical superiority of the landed aristocracy. The result of this thinking is authoritarian-conservative in politics, liberalist in economics and gnostic-millenarist in the spiritual realm. a) Alleanza Cattolica, backbone of Catholic reaction On these conceptual bases, Giovanni Cantoni founded Alleanza Cattolica. He was the son of a veteran of the Repubblica Sociale Italiana , a collaborationist regime of Nazi Germany that existed in northern Italy between September 1943 and April 1945. The regime, wanted by Adolf Hitler and led by Benito Mussolini, had the task of governing part of the Italian territories still militarily controlled by the Germans after the armistice and Italy's unconditional surrender to the Allies. Giovanni Cantoni inherited from his father the rejection of the myth of the "Resistanza" (the civil resistance of the Italian people against Nazi fascism) and found his cultural models in the idealistic philosophy of Giovanni Gentile , in the neo-pagan mysticism of Julius Evola and the esoterism of Renè Guenon . According to the scholar Franco Ferraresi, Evola's thought can be considered one of the most systematic "anti-egalitarian, anti-liberal, anti-democratic and anti-popular systems of the 20th century". Cantoni was also highly critical of the Italian " Risorgimento " (a nineteenth-century political and social movement that led to the consolidation of various states on the Italian peninsula into a single state), which was seen as the Italian version of the French Revolution. As insider Roberto De Mattei writes, " Alleanza Cattolica was the backbone of Catholic reaction in Italy in the decade 1970-1980 ". We must not be fooled by the statement that AC makes in describing itself as an organization that aims to spread the "social doctrine of the Church". The superficial impression of the reader is that the promotion of social doctrine has to do with solving social problems such as economic inequality, exploitation, and so on. No. When AC speaks of "social doctrine", it is really about political doctrine. In other words, social doctrine means the indications that believers should act according to the principles of "natural morality" in the public sphere. The association thus includes members of the reactionary right. Besides promoting Catholic principles and fighting against abortion, divorce and the normalisation of homosexuality, Alleanza Cattolica was dedicated to spreading revisionist interpretations of the history of the Italian Risorgimento and apologising for the various "insurrections", i.e. popular Catholic uprisings against liberal and democratic revolutions (Vendée in France, Sanfedistas in Italy, Cristeros in Mexico, etc.). It is interesting to take a quick look at some of the other eminent AC exponents: Agostino Sanfratello assisted Cantoni in the first days. He later founded another traditionalist Catholic group, the " Lepanto Foundation ", and was one of the main activists of the " Fraternity of St. Pius X ", a "sedevacantist" group founded by the excommunicated French Bishop Lefevbre . Sanfratello was the mentor of Roberto Fiore who was one of the founders of Terza Posizione , a far-right movement. Fiore was convicted by the Italian judiciary in 1985 of the crime of subversive association and armed gang. Fiore was protected by MI6 as a " British intelligence agent " during his years on the run. The 1991 European Commission of Inquiry into Racism and Xenophobia confirmed his association with MI6 since the early 1980s. Fiore is also the founder, with Sanfratello, of the political movement " Forza Nuova ", on whose lists Sanfratello himself stood in 2003. The original group that founded Alleanza Cattolica included the historian Roberto De Mattei . He described himself as " mainly a disciple of Professor Plinio de Oliveira " He is known for vehemently rejecting the theory of evolution. He stated that " the personal existence of Adam and Eve is part of the Church's magisterium ." This, according to de Mattei would be "one of the many reasons why a Catholic cannot accept Darwin's theories." He is then known to have asserted that natural disasters are divine punishment. In addition, he claimed that the "contagion of homosexuality" was responsible for the fall of the Roman Empire . In February 2014, Mattei's monthly radio show, Radici Cristiane (Christian Roots), was cancelled by the director of “Radio Maria” because of Mattei's "increasingly critical stance on the pontificate of Pope Francis". He was, incredibly, vice-president of the CNR (National Research Council) and, less strangely, president of the Lepanto Foundation, founded by Sanfratello. Among de Mattei's various works is a biography of Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira. Other prominent members include Piero Vassallo , author of an essay in defence of the Nazis on trial at Nuremberg. In 1975, Vassallo also became secretary of the International Association “Filippo II”. Vassallo, who died in 2022, was a member of the fascist party Forza Nuova , of which he was also national president. Lawyers are well represented within the AC. They include Benedetto Tusa and Mauro Ronco . One was responsible for a number of heinous episodes of "squadrismo" (acts of collective violence for political ends) in Milan, the other was a member of "Europa 70", a group of young people close to the movement known as “the silent majority". Later, they were both in the courtroom at the trial for the fascist massacre at Piazza Fontana in Milan. One was defending Giancarlo Rognoni, leader of the terrorist group Ordine Nuovo in Milan in the 1960s, accused of helping Delfo Zorzì to smuggle the suitcase containing the explosives into the bank where the massacre took place; the other was defending Carlo Maria Maggi, one of Ordine Nuovo's main representatives in northern Italy, considered to be the "theoretician of the massacres". However, The most famous lawyer in AC is Massimo Introvigne . He joined Alleanza Cattolica in 1972 and soon became the most active member of the association, one of the main signatories of the magazine “Cristianità”, the official organ of AC, and in 2008 even succeeded the founder Cantoni, who had suffered a stroke, in the official capacity of "Reggente Vicario", but who actually led the organisation (Cantoni retained the title of Regent only in an honorary capacity). Introvigne continued the tradition of insurgent apologetics by founding the Centre for Counter-Revolutionary Studies (CESCOR) in Turin. Its website is full with texts by Plinio de Oliveira. In 1988, only three years after the TFP had been declared by the Brazilian bishops as not being in harmony with the Catholic Church and the association had published a pamphlet against the myth of brainwashing, denouncing the conspiracy of communists and psychiatrists against religion, Massimo Introvigne, a lawyer who until then had never dealt with "cults", founded the Centro Studi Nuove Religioni (CESNUR) . b) CESNUR, the counter-revolution with the mask This is a well-known research centre for "new religious movements" that claims to be "independent of any religious or denominational organisation". Although Introvigne has often responded to criticism of the dubious neutrality of a centre for the study of religions whose main representatives are members of Alleanza Cattolica (e.g. Pierluigi Zoccatelli, Marco Respinti and Andrea Menegotto) by saying that CESNUR has nothing to do with AC and works avalutatively and scientifically, it was Introvigne himself who declared in 1993 :
Thus, the activists of Alleanza Cattolica, together with others, founded and operate CESNUR , the Centre for the Study of New Religions [... ...] within the framework of an apologetic response that never fails to return to the larger framework of the dramatic struggle between evangelisation and anti-evangelisation, and thus, in the language of the Catholic counter-revolutionary school from which Alleanza Cattolica draws its inspiration, between revolution and counter-revolution, a framework whose thematic representation constitutes one of the main objectives of the association. In "La questione della nuova religiosità", by Massimo Introvigne, published by Cristianità, 1993 (ISBN 88-85236-14-6) “The Catholic counter-revolutionary school from which Alleanza Cattolica draws its inspiration” and that constitutes the framework of the activity of CESNUR is that of Ousset and de Oliveira.
We know that at a certain point in time it was useful for the TFP to work with representatives and associations of American conservatism such as Paul Weyrich and the Council for National Policy (CNP) . This is a secret organization described by the New York Times as "a little-known club of a few hundred of the country's most influential conservatives" who meet three times a year behind closed doors at undisclosed locations for a confidential conference. Weyrich and other CNP members actively collaborated with Plinio de Oliveira's Tradition, Family and Property (TFP ). See here . On the cover of the American edition of de Oliveira's 1993 book “Nobility and Analogous Traditional Elites in the Allocations of Pius XII” appear the overwhelmingly positive reviews of two members of the Council for National Policy. One is by Weyrich himself, the other by Morton C. Blackwell . Around the time that the Brazilian bishops' conference accused the TFP of not being in communion with the Church of Rome, de Oliveira and his followers held a vision that saw Christian America as the only counter-revolutionary force capable of responding to European secularism, the fruit of the French Revolution, and the 'marxistization' of the Latin Church, which had gone so far as to criticise tradition. Even its European sisters, such as Alleanza Cattolica , took the same stand, uniting their efforts in the fight against secularism with the world of American neo-conservatism and embracing the defense of religious freedom. It is remarkable that even today Massimo Introvigne describes French secularism as a consequence of the Jacobin terror (revolution, subversion') of which FECRIS and MIVILUDES would be the heirs. He writes in an article dated 9 May 2023 : After 240 years, the anti-religious mentality of a certain France has still not completely disappeared. Certainly, the vast majority of French citizens have for generations abandoned the forma mentis that animated the Jacobin terror regime and have moderated their attitude towards religions. Apparently, however, residues of that mentality still lurk in certain areas of French society. This seems to be the case with the MIVILUDES (Mission Interministerielle de Vigilance et de lutte contre les dérives sectarie) [...]
Emanuele del Medico writes in relation to Alleanza Cattolica :
The goals set by this 'counter-revolutionary apostolate' concerned above all the struggle against secularism, the rewriting of historical memory and the control of the ideological production of the Italian right through the creation of a narrow intellectual elite from which the future ruling class would later emerge . The 'establishment of Christ's kingship also over human societies' would be expressed in the restoration of traditional hierarchies within the framework of a society of order in which religion would once again assume a dominant role in social control and the legitimisation of economic and political power [...] The underlying project is not so much to raise the flag of Catholic traditionalism, but to establish a hyper-conservative neoliberal right modelled on the United States . To advance its politics of entrism, the group makes use of a number of organisations, in addition to the magazine 'Christianity' and its eponymous publishing house, which seem to have nothing to do with each other but are run by its men. One example is Cesnur (Centre for Studies on New Religions) headed by Massimo Introvigne, one of the five 'advisors' to the Catholic Alliance Synod. Bold by me. Ultimately, AC and CESNUR are pursuing the neoconservative project by approaching it from an elitist vision and pursuing a policy of cultural influence rather than direct political action. So, political influence (pre-politics), elitism and counter-revolution. Always the same recipe! c) The neocons and the doctrine of double truth
It is therefore interesting to take a look at the roots of the idea that Introvigne and his people pursued so passionately, namely the American neoconservative movement . Leo Strauss is, rightly or wrongly, considered their inspiration. He was convinced that all great writers wrote in a form dressed up for the common people, an 'exoteric' form, and that it was necessary to find the clues to the 'esoteric' truth between the lines. This truth, reserved for those who could bear it, like the disciples chosen by the Master (whom he renamed 'hoplites'), consisted in the nihilistic realisation that the only truth is nothingness and that all moral principles are empty and meaningless. The 'essoteric', external message, on the other hand, consisted precisely in these 'natural moral values'. The authentic philosopher must despise the beliefs of the people, but in public he must pretend to believe in the myths and illusions concocted for the use of the masses, he must conceal this contempt, and in fact make himself a vociferous advocate of the moral values suitable for the masses: religion, democracy, justice. Once again, lessons reserved for the chosen ones, elitism, counter-revolution. We have now left the field of political influence for the effective politics.
Strauss, who adopts an anti-egalitarian and aristocratic perspective similar to de Oliveira, goes into polemic with modernity and democratic concepts by explicitly revisiting the Platonic ' noble lie ' and affirming the necessity of using religion as a rhetorical tool to manipulate and control the masses. It is the doctrine of ' double truth ', whose first legitimisation is by a thinker very dear to certain elitism, Plato. In his 'ideal city', the aristocracy of spirit and thought is legitimised to use deceit for moral, educational and political purposes.In the book III of the Republic Plato writes: [...] God, when he formed you, mixed gold into the generation of those among you who are capable of exercising power, so that they are the most valuable; into that of the guards, silver; iron and bronze into that of the peasants and craftsmen.[...] the city will perish when it is protected by a defender of iron or bronze. The members of TFP feel they are made of gold, probably also those of AC. Thus, in highlighting the duplicity of CESNUR, its being a front office of a traditionalist Catholic organisation and, at the same time, a centre that produces actions in favour of cults further away from Catholicism, we are not just talking about the trivial lie of the mercenary hired by the cults, but also about that of the chosen ones legitimised to the noble lie and the double truth. It is not surprising that they find it morally practicable to resort "ad usum populi" to the noble lie of professing the values of the democratic and liberal society that they inwardly despise. That they despise these values is clear from the oft-quoted genealogy of CESNUR. That it is a legitimate imposture to pose as defenders of religious freedom can be understood by considering the Platonism inherent in this genealogy.
The unconventional warfare expert Jeffrey M. Bale of the Middlebury Institute of International Studies points to this duplicity of CESNUR, describing it as the foremost case of organisations that outwardly promote political and religious agendas in the name of religious and democratic freedoms but " are in reality intended to shield extremist, totalitarian, anti-democratic groups from scrutiny, criticism, and potential government crackdowns, and more generally to resisting or even roll back against <<secular humanism>>, liberalism, and modernism in the West".
For the Italians, an excellent example of this double truth can be seen along the AC-CESNUR line: In 1994, the founder of Alleanza Cattolica, Cantoni, wrote an appeal entitled 'Let us stop the mass Radical Party '. He was referring to a well-known Italian political movement, the Radical Party founded by Marco Pannella. This party was characterised by the promotion of strong liberalism both in the economic field and in civil rights (divorce, abortion, homosexuality, liberalisation of the drug trade, etc.). According to Cantoni, all progressive and secular parties formed a 'mass Radical Party' to which Catholics had to respond. The Radical Party thus became the embodiment of the enemy. Years later, Cantoni's heirs joined forces with members of the Radical Party to defend religious freedom. In 2012, for example, the president of CESNUR, Luigi Berzano , published a volume against the proposed law on the crime of mental manipulation, whose most prominent contribution was that of Mauro Mellini , who was one of the most prominent names in the Radical Party. Other contributions included those of Massimo Introvigne , then leader of Alleanza Cattolica, in addition of CESNUR, and Fabrizio d'Agostini , a leading exponent of Scientology and founder of the European Federation for Freedom of Belief (FOB) . This is the same organisation whose scientific committee includes Introvigne's wife and whose founders include a member of the Radical Party , a certain Camillo Maffia. If the remark "the end justifies the means" seems trivial and disrespectful to the subtlety of Introvigne's thought, the logic of these traditionalists, who are waging a war against secularism in the company of the paladins of secularism, is perhaps better described by the aforementioned doctrine of the double effect of St Thomas Aquinas: "The evil produced by an action directed towards the good does not invalidate the morality of the action itself". When a law against mental manipulation was passed in France in 2001, Introvigne wrote a " manifesto " with advice on how to fight it. Point 1 Is titled Try to understand the law in the French context and makes it perfectly clear that the defense of religious freedom that CESNUR proposes is still perfectly framed in the counter-revolutionary project. In fact, the author writes that a good starting point for understanding French law is the awareness that "the French are really persuaded that extirpating religious belief is both desirable and possible." It is to this theoretical conspiracy that CESNUR reacts. They are fighting against Robespierre. Point 2 Is titled Support Domestic and European Litigation and there is no need for any explanation. In point 4 ( Do not feed the wolves ) he wrote: [...] even the less palatable movements accused of pseudo-crimes such as "brainwashing" or "being a cult" should be vigorously defended. No matter how much we dislike them , [...] Therefore, it can be concluded that the reason why traditionalist Catholics, who are anti-ecumenical by nature, pursue the liberalisation of the religious market is based on an elitist conception that legitimises the use of lying to the people as a rhetorical tool of manipulation for the sake of a good that is considered superior. False benevolence towards even abusive cults (St. Thomas takes care of that anyway) is a tool to fight Jacobinism, i.e. French-style secularism, in other words, the “revolution” (or “subversion”, if you prefer Ousset).
Doppia verità e nobile menzogna. Le radici politiche del CESNUR
di Luigi Corvaglia Ovunque ci sia un gruppo spirituale che debba difendersi alle accuse di abusi o crimini di qualsiasi tipo, il CESNUR c'è. Ad esempio, il noto centro studi è attualmente molto presente sui media giapponesi, dove il suo fondatore Massimo Introvigne sta difendendo ad oltranza la Chiesa dell'Unificazione del Reverendo Moon dalle accuse di essere in qualche modo collegata all'assassinio del Primo Ministro Shinzo Abe . Tuttavia, la credibilità del CESNUR è messa in discussione, tra le altre cose, anche a causa della filiazione di questa ricca associazione no-profit da Alleanza Cattolica , il gruppo cattolico tradizionalista di cui Introvigne stesso è stato leader, e i presunti legami con l'organizzazione controrivoluzionaria Tradizione, Famiglia e Proprietà del brasiliano Plinio Correa de Oliveira . L'excursus che segue cercherà di far luce su questo aspetto e sul paradosso che ne deriva, ovvero che un'associazione nata in ambienti cattolici conservatori difenda culti lontani dal cattolicesimo.
a) Ousset e La Cité catholique
Nel 2011, Introvigne scrive in un articolo su "Cristianità", la rivista di Alleanza Cattolica , per celebrare il 50° anniversario dell'opera principale di Jean Ousset , "Pour qu'Il règne": [...] Giovanni Cantoni, conosce e stima Ousset e Pour qu’Il règne , ma — dovendo scegliere un manuale di riferimento per la sua associazione — decide di privilegiare Rivoluzione e Contro-Rivoluzione di Corrêa de Oliveira. Quest’ultimo è breve e compendia la dottrina contro-rivoluzionaria in forma di tesi. La lussureggiante ricchezza di Pour qu’Il règne non solo lo rende uno strumento meno maneggevole, ma — accompagnando ogni tesi con molteplici riferimenti storici — corre il rischio di rimanere legata a una certa fase di sviluppo della storiografia, sotto questo profilo fatalmente invecchiando.
In pratica, secondo lo stesso Introvigne, l'opera di de Oliveira serviva come "manuale" per i seguaci dell'AC. Poco dopo, però, aggiunge: Il nome di Ousset rimane così poco noto in Italia, anche se negli anni 1970 entra in contatto con lui un certo numero d’italiani aderenti ad Alleanza Cattolica. In quel decennio i congressi di Losanna, di cui Ousset è a lungo il principale animatore, costituiscono per i soci di Alleanza Cattolica un appuntamento importante. In una comunicazione personale Introvigne mi ha confermato che l'insegnamento di Ousset è stato per l'AC altrettanto importante di quello di de Oliveira. Sarà quindi interessante esplorare quest'altro affluente del fiume CESNUR.
Jean Ousset era un membro di Action française . Si tratta di un movimento nazionalista e monarchico di estrema destra che sostiene la Casa d'Orléans. Durante l'occupazione tedesca della Francia, Ousset aderì pienamente al regime di Vichy del maresciallo Philippe Pétain - in seguito disse di non avere nulla di cui scusarsi. Si trattava di uno Stato satellite del Terzo Reich. Il 29 luglio 1946, Jean Ousset fondò il Centro di Studi e Sintesi Critica con Denis Demarque e Jean Masson, e in seguito divenne il leader de La Cité catholique , un'associazione cattolica controrivoluzionaria il cui obiettivo non era la politica attiva ma la pre-politica. La loro organizzazione si basava sull' infiltrazione delle élite , le uniche in grado di guidare la riconquista di una società in difficoltà. I suoi membri formavano "cellule" autonome: piccoli gruppi che si riunivano per studiare l'opera del Maestro e diffondere le sue idee nei rispettivi ambienti (soldati, studenti, dirigenti, ecc.).
La Cité catholique era costituita da un piccolo ma motivatissimo nucleo di militanti radicati nelle Grandes écoles, che costituivano ancora la classe dirigente, e nelle forze armate, soprattutto nella cavalleria e nella marina, i settori tradizionalmente "legittimisti". L'approccio della cité catholique forniva il quadro di riferimento per la nuova dottrina, poiché il gruppo di estrema destra identificava nella " sovversione " la radice di tutti i mali e il nemico della civiltà. La sovversione (dell'ordine cristiano, della legge naturale e del disegno del Creatore) aveva le sue origini nella Rivoluzione francese. Non a caso la rivista dell'organizzazione, "Verbe", si descriveva come un organo di formazione civica per la controrivoluzione. Le elaborazioni della Cité catholique ispirarono un'associazione nata pochi mesi prima a Madrid sotto la protezione del governo fascista di Franco, l' OAS (Organisation armée secrète). L'OAS era un'organizzazione paramilitare clandestina francese attiva durante la guerra d'Algeria e aveva come slogan "Algeria francese o morte". Ha causato circa 1.500 morti in quindici mesi attraverso attacchi terroristici di inaudita feroce. Dopo che fu reso noto l'accordo di Evian tra il governo francese e il Fronte di Liberazione Algerino, l'OSA decise di tentare un assassinio di De Gaulle, considerato un traditore. Quest'ultimo colpo di coda fallì e l'organizzazione si disperse.
La vicinanza del tradizionalismo cattolico agli omicidi e agli attentati terroristici può sembrare strana, ma qui sta l'aspetto più interessante. Negli ambienti cattolici legati alle gerarchie militari, ad esempio, la pratica della tortura in Algeria era considerata degna di assoluzione sulla base del pensiero di Aristotele, Tommaso d'Aquino e Agostino d'Ippona. Louis Delarue, cappellano di un'unità dispiegata in Algeria, diceva che bisognava scegliere tra due mali, e far soffrire temporaneamente un bandito che meritava la pena di morte era il minore.
Probabilmente la migliore giustificazione è fornita dalla dottrina del doppio effetto di San Tommaso d'Aquino: "Il male prodotto da un'azione diretta al bene non invalida la moralità dell'azione stessa".
Abbiamo quindi a che fare con i seguenti elementi chiave: elitarismo, pre-politica (opera di influenza culturale sull'élite), controrivoluzione e giustificazione di azioni riprovevoli attraverso elucubrazioni filosofiche (soprattutto San Tommaso). Torneremo su questi elementi. I principali rappresentanti dell'OSA, compresi i vari membri della Citè catholique che ne facevano parte, troveranno ospitalità e spazio per le loro teorie tra i regimi golpisti dell'America Latina.
b) Plinio Correa de Oliveira e tradizione, famiglia e proprietà
È proprio in America Latina che troviamo l'altro riferimento di Alleanza Cattolica: Plinio Correa de Oliveira e la sua Tradizione, Famiglia e Proprietà . È noto che la TFP conduce la stessa lotta contro la modernità, che de Oliveira definisce non "sovversione" ma "rivoluzione". De Oliveira sostiene che il cristianesimo ha subito un drammatico declino spirituale a partire dal XV secolo (la "rivoluzione"), a causa della diffusione dell'egualitarismo sociale e del liberalismo morale, che hanno posto fine alla rettitudine che aveva caratterizzato la società medievale. È necessaria la completa restaurazione della civiltà cristiana attraverso la reintroduzione delle gerarchie sociali e dei titoli aristocratici e la dissoluzione dei partiti socialisti. De Oliveira era il venerato portatore di un programma per la "restaurazione dell'ordine", che veniva descritto come un ritorno ad una civiltà cristiana, austera e gerarchica, fondamentalmente sacra, antiegalitaria e antiliberale.
Le azioni di Tradizione, Famiglia e Proprietà , l'organizzazione fondata da de Oliveira, sono essenzialmente politiche: in Brasile, ad esempio, l'organizzazione è stata molto attiva nella riforma agraria degli anni 2000. Si è schierata con i grandi proprietari terrieri, i fazendeiros , contro il movimento dei sem terra (senza terra); questo impegno è stato accompagnato dalla battaglia contro il controllo delle armi. Secondo lo storico Orlando Fedeli , che ne è stato membro per trent'anni, Tradizione, Famiglia e Proprietà sarebbe un culto millenaristico e gnostico . Infatti, avrebbe una dottrina esterna e un insegnamento segreto riservato ai livelli più alti della conoscenza. Gli insegnamenti "esoterici" di De Oliveira, che si possono leggere anche nella rivista "Dr Plinio" diretta da monsignor João Scognamiglio Clá Dias, si concentravano sulla " superiorità metafisica " della nobiltà, soprattutto quella terriera sudamericana. Si può notare come questo ricalchi fedelmente sia la gerarchia platonica sia l'idea gnostica di salvezza riservata ai soli "spirituali" (e di condanna in parte per gli "psichici" e interamente per gli "ilici"). L'antiegalitarismo della TFP genera negli attivisti il disprezzo di classe , un gusto per il lusso e l'ozio .
Nel rapporto Joyeux sulla scuola TFP di Saint Benoit, leggiamo che la durezza di cuore e l'odio palese per la gente comune caratterizzano il comportamento quotidiano della maggior parte degli attivisti TFP. Tutto ciò che è lusso, sfarzo e ozio è visto come controrivoluzionario e scatena un senso di orgoglio che deriva dal sentirsi appartenenti a un'élite destinata. Infatti, poiché la mentalità rivoluzionaria è caratterizzata da una virulenta esaltazione del pauperismo, la TFP agisce affermando sistematicamente il contrario. Per capire l'elitarismo di De Oliveira, basti sapere che non ha mai sostenuto l'"integrismo", la versione brasiliana del fascismo, perché lo considerava troppo "interclassista" e "socialista" e poco aperto alle esigenze della superiorità metafisica dell'aristocrazia terriera.
Il risultato di questo pensiero è autoritario-conservatore in politica, liberista in economia e gnostico-millenarista nell'ambito spirituale.
c) Alleanza Cattolica, spina dorsale della reazione cattolica
Su queste basi concettuali, Giovanni Cantoni fondò Alleanza Cattolica. Questi era figlio di un reduce della Repubblica Sociale Italiana , un regime collaborazionista della Germania nazista esistito nell'Italia settentrionale tra il settembre 1943 e l'aprile 1945. Il regime, voluto da Adolf Hitler e guidato da Benito Mussolini, aveva il compito di governare parte dei territori italiani ancora controllati militarmente dai tedeschi dopo l'armistizio e la resa incondizionata dell'Italia agli Alleati. Giovanni Cantoni ereditò dal padre il rifiuto del mito della "Resistenza" e trovò i suoi modelli culturali nella filosofia idealistica di Giovanni Gentile , nella mistica neopagana di Julius Evola e nell'esoterismo di Renè Guenon . Secondo lo studioso Franco Ferraresi, il pensiero di Evola può essere considerato uno dei più sistematici "sistemi antiegalitari, antiliberali, antidemocratici e antipopolari del XX secolo". Cantoni fu anche molto critico nei confronti del " Risorgimento " italiano, visto come la versione italiana della Rivoluzione francese. Come scrive l'insider Roberto De Mattei , " Alleanza Cattolica è stata la spina dorsale della reazione cattolica in Italia nel decennio 1970-1980 ". Non dobbiamo lasciarci ingannare dall'affermazione che l'AC fa descrivendosi come un'organizzazione che mira a diffondere la "dottrina sociale della Chiesa". L'impressione superficiale del lettore è che la promozione della dottrina sociale abbia a che fare con la soluzione di problemi sociali come la disuguaglianza economica, lo sfruttamento e così via. No. Quando l'AC parla di "dottrina sociale", si riferisce in realtà alla dottrina politica. In altre parole, per dottrina sociale si intendono le indicazioni che i credenti devono seguire nella sfera pubblica in accordo coi principi della "morale naturale" . L'associazione comprende quindi membri della destra reazionaria. Oltre a promuovere i principi cattolici e a lottare contro l'aborto, il divorzio e la normalizzazione dell'omosessualità, Alleanza Cattolica si è dedicata alla diffusione di interpretazioni revisioniste della storia del Risorgimento italiano e all'apologia delle varie "insurrezioni", cioè delle rivolte popolari cattoliche contro le rivoluzioni liberali e democratiche (Vandea in Francia, Sanfedisti in Italia, Cristeros in Messico, ecc.)
È interessante dare un rapido sguardo ad altri eminenti esponenti dell'AC:
Agostino Sanfratello coadiuvò Cantoni nei primi giorni. In seguito fondò un altro gruppo cattolico tradizionalista, la " Fondazione Lepanto ", e fu uno dei principali attivisti della " Fraternità San Pio X ", un gruppo "sedevacantista" fondato dal vescovo francese scomunicato Lefevbre . Sanfratello è stato il mentore di Roberto Fiore , uno dei fondatori di Terza Posizione , un movimento di estrema destra. Fiore è stato condannato dalla magistratura italiana nel 1985 per il reato di associazione sovversiva e banda armata. Durante gli anni di latitanza, Fiore è stato protetto dall'MI6 come " agente dei servizi segreti britannici ". La Commissione europea d'inchiesta sul razzismo e la xenofobia del 1991 ha confermato la sua associazione con l'MI6 fin dai primi anni Ottanta. Fiore è anche il fondatore, insieme a Sanfratello, del movimento politico " Forza Nuova ", nelle cui liste lo stesso Sanfratello si è candidato nel 2003. Il gruppo originario che fondò Alleanza Cattolica comprendeva lo storico Roberto De Mattei . Egli si è descritto come " principalmente un discepolo del professor Plinio de Oliveira ". È noto per aver rifiutato con veemenza la teoria dell'evoluzione. Ha affermato che " l'esistenza personale di Adamo ed Eva fa parte del magistero della Chiesa ". Questo, secondo de Mattei, sarebbe "una delle tante ragioni per cui un cattolico non può accettare le teorie di Darwin". È poi noto per aver affermato che i disastri naturali sono una punizione divina. Inoltre, ha affermato che il "contagio dell'omosessualità" è stato responsabile della caduta dell'Impero romano . Nel febbraio 2014, il programma radiofonico mensile di Mattei, Radici Cristiane , è stato cancellato dal direttore di "Radio Maria" a causa della "posizione sempre più critica di Mattei nei confronti del pontificato di Papa Francesco". È stato, incredibilmente, vicepresidente del CNR (Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche) e, meno stranamente, presidente della Fondazione Lepanto, fondata da Sanfratello. Tra le varie opere di de Mattei c'è una biografia di Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira. Tra gli altri membri di spicco vi è Piero Vassallo , autore di un saggio in difesa dei nazisti sotto processo a Norimberga. Nel 1975, Vassallo divenne anche segretario dell'Associazione Internazionale "Filippo II". Vassallo, morto nel 2022, è stato membro del partito Forza Nuova , di cui è stato anche presidente nazionale.
Gli avvocati sono ben rappresentati all'interno dell'AC. Tra questi Benedetto Tusa e Mauro Ronco . Il primo è stato responsabile di alcuni efferati episodi di "squadrismo" a Milano, l'altro è stato membro di "Europa 70", un gruppo di giovani vicini al movimento noto come "maggioranza silenziosa". In seguito, li ritroviamo entrambi in aula al processo per la strage fascista di Piazza Fontana a Milano. Uno difendeva Giancarlo Rognoni, leader del gruppo terroristico Ordine Nuovo a Milano negli anni Sessanta, accusato di aver aiutato Delfo Zorzì a introdurre di nascosto la valigia contenente l'esplosivo nella banca dove avvenne la strage; l'altro difendeva Carlo Maria Maggi, uno dei principali esponenti di Ordine Nuovo nel Nord Italia, considerato il "teorico delle stragi". Tuttavia, l'avvocato più famoso dell'AC è Massimo Introvigne . Entrato in Alleanza Cattolica nel 1972, è diventato ben presto il membro più attivo dell'associazione, uno dei principali firmatari della rivista "Cristianità", organo ufficiale dell'AC, e nel 2008 è addirittura succeduto al fondatore Cantoni, colpito da un ictus, nella veste ufficiale di "Reggente Vicario", ma di fatto alla guida dell'organizzazione (Cantoni ha mantenuto il titolo di Reggente solo a titolo onorifico). Introvigne continuò la tradizione dell'apologetica insurrezionale fondando a Torino il Centro Studi Contro-Rivoluzionari (CESCOR) . Il suo sito web è ricco di testi di Plinio de Oliveira. Nel 1988, solo tre anni dopo che la TFP era stata dichiarata dai vescovi brasiliani non in armonia con la Chiesa cattolica e l'associazione aveva pubblicato un pamphlet contro il mito del lavaggio del cervello, denunciando la cospirazione di comunisti e psichiatri contro la religione, Massimo Introvigne, un avvocato che fino ad allora non si era mai occupato di "culti", fondò il Centro Studi Nuove Religioni (CESNUR) . d) CESNUR, la controrivoluzione con la maschera
Si tratta di un noto centro di ricerca sui "nuovi movimenti religiosi" che si dichiara "indipendente da qualsiasi organizzazione religiosa o confessionale". Sebbene Introvigne abbia spesso risposto alle critiche sulla dubbia neutralità di un centro di studi sulle religioni i cui principali rappresentanti sono membri di Alleanza Cattolica (ad esempio Pierluigi Zoccatelli, Marco Respinti e Andrea Menegotto) affermando che il CESNUR non ha nulla a che fare con AC e lavora in modo avalutativo e scientifico, è stato lo stesso Introvigne a dichiarare nel 1993 : Così, gli attivisti di Alleanza Cattolica, insieme ad altri, hanno fondato e gestiscono il CESNUR , il Centro Studi sulle Nuove Religioni [... ...] nell'ambito di una risposta apologetica che non manca di tornare al quadro più ampio della drammatica lotta tra evangelizzazione e antievangelizzazione, e quindi, nel linguaggio della scuola controrivoluzionaria cattolica a cui Alleanza Cattolica si ispira, tra rivoluzione e controrivoluzione, quadro la cui rappresentazione tematica costituisce uno degli obiettivi principali dell'associazione . In "La questione della nuova religiosità", di Massimo Introvigne, pubblicato da Cristianità, 1993 (ISBN 88-85236-14-6). "la scuola controrivoluzionaria cattolica a cui Alleanza Cattolica si ispira" e che costituisce l'ossatura dell'attività del CESNUR è quella di Ousset e de Oliveira. Sappiamo che a un certo punto è stato utile per la TFP lavorare con rappresentanti e associazioni del conservatorismo americano come Paul Weyrich e il Council for National Policy (CNP) . Si tratta di un'organizzazione segreta, descritta dal New York Times come "un club poco conosciuto di alcune centinaia di conservatori più influenti del Paese", che si riunisce tre volte l'anno a porte chiuse in luoghi non rivelati per una conferenza riservata. Weyrich e altri membri del CNP hanno collaborato attivamente con la Tradizione, Famiglia e Proprietà (TFP ). Si veda, ad esempio, qui . Sulla copertina dell'edizione americana del libro di de Oliveira del 1993 "Nobility and Analogous Traditional Elites in the Allocations of Pius XII" compaiono le recensioni più che positive di due membri del Council for National Policy. Una è dello stesso Weyrich, l'altra di Morton C. Blackwell . Nel periodo in cui la Conferenza episcopale brasiliana accusava la TFP di non essere in comunione con la Chiesa di Roma, de Oliveira e i suoi seguaci acquisivano una visione che vedeva l'America cristiana come l'unica forza controrivoluzionaria in grado di rispondere al secolarismo europeo, frutto della Rivoluzione francese, e alla "marxistizzazione" della Chiesa latina, che si era spinta fino alla critica della tradizione. Anche le sue consorelle europee, come Alleanza Cattolica , hanno preso la stessa posizione, unendo i loro sforzi nella lotta contro il secolarismo al mondo del neoconservatorismo americano e abbracciando la difesa della libertà religiosa. È singolare che ancora oggi Massimo Introvigne descriva la laicità francese come una conseguenza del terrore giacobino (rivoluzione, sovversione) di cui FECRIS e MIVILUDES sarebbero gli eredi. Scrive in un articolo del 9 maggio 2023 : Dopo 240 anni, la mentalità antireligiosa di una certa Francia non è ancora del tutto scomparsa. Certamente, la stragrande maggioranza dei cittadini francesi ha abbandonato da generazioni la forma mentis che animava il regime del terrore giacobino e ha moderato il proprio atteggiamento nei confronti delle religioni. A quanto pare, però, residui di quella mentalità si annidano ancora in alcuni settori della società francese. Questo sembra essere il caso della MIVILUDES (Mission Interministerielle de Vigilance et de lutte contre les dérives sectarie) [...] Emanuele del Medico scrive in relazione ad Alleanza Cattolica : Gli obiettivi che questo «apostolato controrivoluzionario» si prefigge riguardano soprattutto la lotta contro il laicismo, la riscrittura della memoria storica, il controllo della produzione ideologica della destra italiana attraverso la creazione di una ristretta élite intellettuale che dia successivamente vita alla futura classe dirigente . L’«instaurazione della regalità di Cristo anche sulle società umane» si esprimerebbe nel ripristino delle gerarchie tradizionali , nel contesto di una società d’ordine, dove la religione ritornerebbe ad assumere un ruolo preponderante di controllo sociale e legittimazione del potere politico ed economico [...] Il progetto sotteso non consiste tanto nel tener alta la bandiera del tradizionalismo cattolico, bensì nella fondazione di una destra neoliberista iperconservatrice sul modello di quella statunitense. Per favorire la sua politica di entrismo, oltre alla rivista «Cristianità» e alle omonime edizioni, il gruppo si servirebbe di alcune organizzazioni apparentemente slegate ma gestite da suoi uomini. Ne è un esempio il Cesnur (Centro studi sulle nuove religioni) diretto da Massimo Introvigne, uno dei cinque «consultori» del sinodo di Alleanza cattolica.
Neretto mio. In definitiva, AC e CESNUR perseguono il progetto neoconservatore affrontandolo da una visione elitaria e perseguendo una politica di influenza culturale piuttosto che di azione politica diretta. Quindi, influenza politica (pre-politica), elitarismo e controrivoluzione. Sempre la stessa ricetta!
e) I neocon e la dottrina della doppia verità È quindi interessante dare uno sguardo alle radici dell'idea che Introvigne e i suoi hanno abbracciato con tanta passione, ovvero il movimento neoconservatore americano. Leo Strauss ne è ritenuto, a torto o a ragione, l'ispiratore. Questi era convinto che tutti i grandi autori scrivessero in forma camuffata per il volgo, una forma "essoterica", e fosse necessario trovare gli indizi della verità "esoterica" fra le righe. Questa verità, riservata a coloro che possono sopportarla, come gli allievi scelti dal maestro (da lui ribattezzati "opliti"), consisteva nella consapevolezza nichilistica che l'unica verità è il nulla e che tutti i principi morali sono vacui e insensati. Il messaggio "essoterico", esterno, invece, consisteva proprio in questi "valori morali naturali". L'autentico filosofo deve disprezzare le credenze del volgo, ma in pubblico, deve fingere di credere ai miti e alla illusioni orditi ad uso delle moltitudini, dissimulare tale disprezzo e, anzi, farsi vocale fautore dei valori morali atti a gestire le masse: religione, democrazia, giustizia. Ancora una volta lezioni riservate agli eletti, elitarismo, controrivoluzione. Abbiamo lasciato il campo dell'influenza politica per la politica effettiva. Strauss, facendo propria una prospettiva antiegualitaria e aristocratica simile a quella di de Oliveira, entra in polemica con la modernità e le concezioni di tipo democratico recuperando esplicitamente la “ nobile menzogna ” platonica e affermando l’esigenza dell’uso delle religione quale strumento retorico di manipolazione e dominio sulla massa. È la dottrina della " doppia verità ", la cui prima legittimazione è di un pensatore molto caro a certo elitismo, Platone . Nella sua "città ideale", l'aristocrazia dello spirito e del pensiero è legittimata a usare l'inganno per scopi morali, educativi e politici. Nel III libro de "La Repubblica" egli scrive: [...] Dio, quando vi ha formato, ha mescolato l'oro nella generazione di coloro che tra voi sono in grado di esercitare il potere, in modo che siano i più preziosi; in quella delle guardie, l'argento; il ferro e il bronzo in quella dei contadini e degli artigiani.[...] la città perirà quando sarà protetta da un difensore di ferro o di bronzo. I membri della TFP si sentono d'oro, probabilmente anche quelli dell'AC. Così, nell'evidenziare la doppiezza del CESNUR, il suo essere un front office di un'organizzazione cattolica tradizionalista e, allo stesso tempo, un centro che produce azioni a favore dei culti più lontani dal cattolicesimo, non stiamo parlando solo della banale menzogna del mercenario assoldato dai culti, ma anche di quella degli eletti legittimati alla nobile menzogna e alla doppia verità.
Non sorprende che si trovi moralmente praticabile il ricorso "ad usum populi" alla nobile menzogna di professare i valori della società democratica e liberale che interiormente si disprezzano. Che questi valori essi li disprezzino è evidente dalla più volte richiamata genealogia del CESNUR. Che quello di porsi come difensori della libertà religiosa sia una impostura legittimata lo si capisce ragionando sul platonismo intrinseco a detta genealogia. L'esperto di guerra non convenzionale Jeffrey M. Bale , del Middlebury Institute of International Studies, mette in evidenza la doppiezza del CESNUR definendolo il caso più importante di organizzazione che esteriormente promuove agende politiche e religiose in nome delle libertà religiose e democratiche ma che in realtà , "mirano in realtà a difendere gruppi estremisti, totalitari ed anti-democratici dalle indagini, dalle critiche e da eventuali repressioni statali e, più in generale, a resistere o addirittura ricacciare indietro l'umanesimo laico, il liberalismo ed il modernismo in Occidente ". Per gli italiani, un esempio eccellente di questa doppia verità si può vedere lungo la linea AC-CESNUR: Nel 1994, il fondatore di Alleanza Cattolica, Cantoni, scrisse un appello intitolato "Fermiamo il Partito Radicale di massa ". Si riferiva a un noto movimento politico italiano, il Partito Radicale fondato da Marco Pannella. Questo partito si caratterizzava per la promozione di un forte liberalismo sia in campo economico che in quello dei diritti civili (divorzio, aborto, omosessualità, liberalizzazione del traffico di droga, ecc.) Secondo Cantoni, tutti i partiti progressisti e laici formavano un "Partito Radicale di massa" a cui i cattolici dovevano rispondere. Il Partito Radicale diventava così l'incarnazione del nemico. Anni dopo, gli eredi di Cantoni hanno unito le forze con i membri del Partito Radicale per difendere la libertà religiosa. Nel 2012, ad esempio, il presidente del CESNUR, Luigi Berzano , ha pubblicato un volume contro la proposta di legge sul reato di manipolazione mentale il cui contributo più rilevante è stato quello di Mauro Mellini , che era uno dei nomi più importanti del Partito Radicale. Altri contributi furono quelli di Massimo Introvigne , allora leader di Alleanza Cattolica, oltre che del CESNUR, e di Fabrizio d'Agostini , esponente di spicco di Scientology e fondatore della Federazione Europea per la Libertà di Credenza (FOB) . Si tratta della stessa organizzazione nel cui comitato scientifico è presente la moglie di Introvigne e tra i cui fondatori figura un esponente del Partito Radicale , un certo Camillo Maffia. Se l'osservazione "il fine giustifica i mezzi" sembra banale e irrispettosa della sottigliezza del pensiero di Introvigne, la logica di questi tradizionalisti, che conducono una guerra contro la laicità in compagnia dei paladini della laicità, è forse meglio descritta dalla già citata dottrina del doppio effetto di San Tommaso d'Aquino: "Il male prodotto da un'azione diretta al bene non invalida la moralità dell'azione stessa". Quando nel 2001 in Francia fu approvata una legge contro la manipolazione mentale, Introvigne scrisse un " manifesto " con i consigli su come combatterla. Il punto 1 si intitola Cercare di capire la legge nel contesto francese e chiarisce perfettamente che la difesa della libertà religiosa che il CESNUR propone è ancora perfettamente inquadrata nel progetto controrivoluzionario. Infatti, l'autore scrive che un buon punto di partenza per comprendere la legge francese è la consapevolezza che "i francesi sono realmente persuasi che l'estirpazione del credo religioso sia auspicabile e possibile". È a questa teorica cospirazione che il CESNUR reagisce. Combattono contro Robespierre. Il punto 2 è intitolato Sostenere il contenzioso interno ed europeo e non c'è bisogno di alcuna spiegazione. Al punto 4 ( Non date da mangiare ai lupi ) scrive: [...] anche i movimenti meno gradevoli, accusati di pseudo-crimini come "lavaggio del cervello" o "setta", dovrebbero essere difesi con forza. Non importa quanto non ci piacciano , [...] Si può quindi concludere che la ragione per cui dei cattolici tradizionalisti, antiecumenici per natura, perseguono la liberalizzazione del mercato religioso si basa su una concezione elitaria che legittima l'uso della menzogna nei confronti del popolo come strumento retorico di manipolazione in nome di un bene considerato superiore. La falsa benevolenza nei confronti di culti anche abusivi (tanto ci pensa San Tommaso) è uno strumento per combattere il giacobinismo, cioè il laicismo alla francese, in altre parole la "rivoluzione" (o "sovversione", se preferite Ousset).
Notes on the geopolitics of cults. Appendix: Face/Off
Luigi Corvaglia Sometimes things are not as they appear. Sometimes they are just the opposite of what they appear to be. The seven-part excursus on the geopolitics of cults proposed here, for example, has shown how long a narrative has been prevalent that sees the defenders of those non-territorial totalitarianisms that are the 'cults' as champions of civil rights and advocates of religious freedom. Instead, scholars and associations that denounce the work of abusive cults are labelled as enemies of religious freedom and individual self-determination. Those who have read the report know how paradoxical this last accusation is, knowing the political and cultural background it emanates from (parts three , four , five and seven ). As in the movie Face/Off , the 'good' has taken on the face of the 'evil' and vice versa. That a work of influence can lead to this result by misleading the unwary audience is easy to understand. Nevertheless, the reader is probably left with the unsatisfying question of how some apologists for cults professing non-ecumenical versions of their own faith can defend other faiths, or how CESNUR , an organisation that emerged from a traditionalist Catholic group such as Alleanza Cattolica ( Fourth Part ), can become the steering committee for the coordinated action of the international network in defence of cults most distant from Catholicism. I believe that I can contribute, at least in part, to the resolution of this paradox by referring to three concepts - namely, a doctrine, a theory, and a political idea - that constitute the cultural references of the leadership of the Turin Study Centre. The three pairs of concepts are briefly described below. 1. The Theory of Religious Economy Rodney Stark is an American know-it-all scientist who vehemently advocates Darwinism in all fields except the one that is its own, biology (in his opinion, evolution is an invention to discredit religion) This is how blogger Miguel Martinez sums up this character . An effective and keen synthesis that's enriched in the following lines: Rodney Stark's main concern is to justify neoliberalism theologically, as is evident from the triumphant title of one of his books, The Victory of Reason. How Christianity Led to Freedom, Capitalism, and Western Success . A concept we might translate as, "If they foreclose on your house, it's because Jesus wanted it that way". The author is witty and shows very well the conditions under which the "American know-it-all" works. However, to say that Stark merely "justifies neoliberalism theologically" falls short; in fact, his main concern is to justify theology on "neoliberal" grounds. We should proceed in order. We can say it better. Rodney Stark can be considered the founder of the Theory of Religious Economy . This is the notion that the religious is a "market' equal in all respects to the commodity market. As in all markets, different consumers buy goods, which in this case are the "religious goods" (the various creeds) of competing religious enterprises (the more or less organized religions) . Consistent with this paradigm, the theory states that . [...] as in any other market for material or symbolic goods, and contrary to what some theorists of secularization think - also in (institutional) religion competition is good for the market and within certain limits supply feeds demand. As evidence of this, authors working in the wake of this mercantilist conception point out that : The countries with the greatest religious pluralism - that's, with the greatest competition among religious enterprises - such as the United States [...], are also the countries where the total number of religious practitioners remains stable or increases . Whereas, Where, on the other hand, the state obstructs religious pluralism and, in particular, opposes the entry into the market of new entities branded as "cults" or enemies of national identity, there-as in France and Russia-the number of religious practitioners generally declines spectacularly. In other words, the conclusion is "more market and less state," according to the classic Lassiz-Faire paradigm. This position is based on two premises and an implicit assumption. The first presupposition is that the increase in the number of people practicing religions is a positive and desirable fact; the second presupposition is that the "consumer," the actor who makes his choice in the market of religions, is "rational" and knows what he's buying, in short, that this person is the "homo oeconomicus" imagined by neoclassical economics, who tends to maximize his own utility; the implicit assumption of the theory is that the various religious "firms" compete with each other and try to satisfy the buyers they compete for better than the others. The consequences are manifold. If the basic assumptions are accepted, it follows that there's a need for strong "deregulation" of the religious market. Stark and Iannaccone write: To the extent that a religious economy is competitive and pluralistic, overall levels of religious participation will tend to be high. On the contrary, to the extent that the religious economy is monopolized by one or two state-supported enterprises, participation tends to be low. In short, it appears that the enemy of the religious market, as with any other market, is the state; for it's natural for state institutions to favor monopolies to the detriment of free competition and to brand new potential competitors as "sects" or destructive cults. The attraction that the Theory of Religious Economy has for some cult apologists is obviously due to this ideological notion, which relabels criticism of abusive cults as an attempt to suppress the free market in favor of monopolistic religions protected by a planning state that seeks to protect them from competition. The implication, then, is that anti-cult activism is interested work carried out by people who are somehow connected to the state and/or the religious apparatus. In other words, the conspiratorial idea that Is already part of relativist and postmodern apologetics reappears in a discrete form. Of course, only the large organized religions can claim a monopoly, certainly not the secular states of the West, whose founding value is precisely secularism. Nevertheless, the anti-cult movement has no relation to institutional religions, to the point of being accused of "secularism"... The profane reader of the religious economics, however, the curiosity remains unsatisfied as to how different religions can compete to satisfy consumers better than their competitors. The answer is simple: the religions that satisfy customers the most are the most demanding and restrictive. One of the propagators of this mercantile concept is Massimo Introvigne , the president of CESNUR . He strongly emphasises this aspect of competitors improving the quality of their offer. He writes , for example: ... there is a kind of Darwinian struggle even in the religious field. The most demanding religious proposals tend to prevail: among Jews, the Orthodox, in Islam the fundamentalists, and among Catholics, the most rigid movements and congregations . Competition would select the faiths that are more rigid and strict in demanding adherence, in short, the more integralist and fundamentalist versions. Competition, then, selects the fundamentalisms. This selection of extremist versions can be explained by the phenomenon of free riders, those who literally "travel cheap." Those who want to enjoy the benefits of a collective enterprise, but don't want to bear the costs, travel without a ticket. In the religious realm, the collective enterprise is a church or faith community. An organization can tolerate a few free riders, i.e., uncommitted members, but not too many. Introvigne writes : In the realm of religions, the less strict and rigorous organizations, which charge low admission fees and unobtrusively check that members have paid their admission ticket, i.e., that they're sufficiently committed, take on board such a high number of free riders that they offer their faithful a diluted and unsatisfying religious experience, [...] The more rigorous organizations charge a more expensive admission ticket and check that everyone pays for it: In this way, they allow fewer free riders, and the symbolic goods of a group where there are no free riders are usually perceived as more satisfying by consumers. One concludes that the outcome of this beneficial competition between religions is an increase in religious zeal and commitment, i.e., an increase in what's most hostile to competition (in this case, other commitments and zeal). This competition feeds the monopolistic claims of fundamentalisms, which are by definition incompatible. A free market that generates hostility to the free market! This is an incompatibility that cannot be reconciled and cannot harmonize in an ecumenism precisely because of the rigidity chosen by the market. In conclusion, any representative of a conservative spiritual vision who wanted to strengthen it would have to work to ensure the continued existence of all other faiths on the market and to defend even the most controversial spiritual groups (e.g. Scientology) with all their might. This would have the double effect of strengthening his own incontrovertible "truth" and at the same time - paradoxically - becoming a defender of religious freedom. THEN The first reason why religious people with little inclination towards ecumenism may pursue the liberalisation of the market of faiths is that they believe that competition allows not only the non-interference of the state in their faith, but even the increase and radicalisation of that faith itself. 2. The doctrine of double truth A second reason why traditionalist Catholics advocate 'religious freedom' depends on a very simple concept, and that is lying . It seems elementary and even naïve to claim that CESNUR and the organisations in which the various personalities who are the expression of this study centre are pretending to care about ecumenical concern for religious freedom and worry for human rights. The idea that the profit from services to Scientology or other sects is sufficient to justify the hypocrisy of religious apologists, as some imply, is trite. Indeed, the preceding discussion on the theory of religious economics shows that the logic behind paradoxical behaviour can be much more subtle. Let us proceed with order. As Introvigne himself writes in an article in "Cristianità" , Alleanza Cattolica's cultural reference points were the Frenchman Jan Ousset and the Brazilian Plinio Correa de Oliveira . The descent of CESNUR from Alleanza Cattolica, in turn, is an incontrovertible fact, since founder Introvigne himself admitted that CESNUR came into being at the urging of Alleanza Cattolica as an apologetic response in the context of the struggle "between revolution and counterrevolution" . In other words, CESNUR's pedigree sees its closest ancestors in the traditionalist Catholic authors mentioned above. Ousset was the founder of La Cité catholique , a counter-revolutionary Catholic association whose aim was not active politics but pre-politics. The organisation relied on the infiltration of elites who were the only ones capable of leading the reconquest of a society in difficulty. The group identified ' subversion ' as the root of all evil and the enemy of civilisation. Subversion (of the Christian order, natural law and the Creator's plan) had its origins in the French Revolution. The elaborations of the Cité catholique inspired an association that had emerged a few months earlier in Madrid under the protection of Franco's fascist government, the OAS (Organisation armée secrète). The OAS was a French clandestine paramilitary organisation active during the Algerian war with the slogan 'French Algeria or death'. It caused about 1,500 deaths in fifteen months through terrorist attacks of unprecedented cruelty. The proximity of Catholic traditionalism to murders and terrorist attacks may seem strange, but herein lies the most interesting aspect. In Catholic circles linked to the military hierarchies, for example, the practise of torture in Algeria was considered worthy of absolution based on the basis of the thought of Aristotle, Thomas Aquinas and Augustine of Hippo. Louis Delarue, chaplain of a unit deployed in Algeria, said that one had to choose between two evils, and making a bandit who deserved the death penalty suffer temporarily was the lesser one. Probably the best justification is provided by St Thomas Aquinas' doctrine of double effect : 'The evil caused by an action directed towards the good does not invalidate the morality of the action itself'. So we are dealing with the following key elements: elitism, pre-politics (the operation of cultural influences on the elite), counter-revolution and justification of reprehensible actions by philosophical lucubrations (especially St Thomas). We will return to these elements. The other Catholic Alliance reference is Plinio Correa de Oliveira with his organization Tradition, Family and Property . His book 'Revolution and Counter-Revolution' is the training manual for the followers of AC. It is well known that the TFP is waging the same struggle as Ousset against modernity, which de Oliveira defines not as 'subversion' but as 'revolution'. According to historian Orlando Fedeli , who has been a member for thirty years, Tradition, Family and Property would be a millenaristic gnostic cult . In fact, there would be an external doctrine and a secret doctrine reserved for the highest levels of knowledge. De Oliveira's 'esoteric' teachings, which can also be read in the journal 'Dr Plinio' directed by Monsignor João Scognamiglio Clá Dias, focused on the ' metaphysical superiority ' of the nobility, especially the South American landed gentry. One can see how this faithfully traces both the Platonic hierarchy and the Gnostic idea of salvation reserved for the 'spiritual' alone (and damnation partly for the 'psychic' and entirely for the 'ilical'). The anti-egalitarianism of the TFP generates in activists a contempt for class, a taste for luxury and idleness . In the Joyeux report on the TFP school in Saint Benoit, we read that hardness of heart and undisguised hatred of ordinary people characterise the daily behaviour of most TFP activists. Everything to do with luxury, glamour and idleness is seen as counter-revolutionary and triggers a sense of pride stemming from the feeling of belonging to a destined elite. Since the revolutionary mentality is characterised by a virulent glorification of pauperism, the TFP acts by systematically asserting the opposite. To understand De Oliveira's elitism, it is enough to know that he never supported 'integrism', the Brazilian version of fascism, because he considered it too 'interclass' and 'socialist' and not open to the demands of the metaphysical superiority of the landed aristocracy. We know that at one point it was useful for the TFP to work with representatives and associations of American conservatism such as Paul Weyrich and the Council for National Policy (CNP) . This is a secret organisation, described by the New York Times as 'a little-known club of a few hundred of the country's most influential conservatives, which meets three times a year behind closed doors at undisclosed locations for a confidential conference. At a time when the Brazilian Bishops' Conference was accusing the TFP of not being in communion with the Church of Rome, de Oliveira and his followers developed a vision that saw Christian America as the only counter-revolutionary force capable of responding to European secularism, the fruit of the French Revolution, and the 'Marxisation' of the Latin Church, which had gone so far as to criticise Tradition. Its European sisters, such as the Alleanza Cattolica , also took the same position, combining their efforts in the fight against secularism with the world of American neo-conservatism and taking up the defence of religious freedom. Emanuele del Medico writes in relation to Alleanza Cattolica : The goals set by this 'counter-revolutionary apostolate' refer above all to the struggle against secularism, the rewriting of historical memory and the control of the ideological production of the Italian right through the creation of a narrow intellectual elite from which the future ruling class would then emerge. The 'establishment of Christ's kingship also over human societies' would be expressed in the restoration of traditional hierarchies within the framework of a society of order in which religion would once again assume a predominant role in social control and the legitimisation of political and economic power [...] The underlying project is not so much to raise the flag of Catholic traditionalism, but to establish a hyper-conservative neoliberal right modelled on the United States . To advance its politics of entrism, the group makes use of a number of organisations, in addition to the magazine 'Cristianità' and its eponymous publishing house, which seem to have nothing to do with each other but are run by its men. One example is Cesnur (Centre for Studies on New Religions) headed by Massimo Introvigne, one of the five 'advisors' to the Synod of Alleanza Cattolica. Bold mine. Ultimately, AC and CESNUR pursue the neoconservative project by approaching it from an elitist standpoint and by pursuing a policy of cultural influence. It is therefore interesting to look at the roots of the idea that Introvigne and his team pursued so passionately, namely the American neoconservative movement . Leo Strauss is, rightly or wrongly, considered their inspiration. He was convinced that all great authors write in a form disguised for the common people, an 'exoteric' form, and that it was necessary to find the clues to the 'esoteric' truth between the lines. This truth, reserved for those who could bear it, like the disciples chosen by the Master (whom he renamed 'hoplites'), consisted in the nihilistic realisation that the only truth is nothingness and that all moral principles are empty and meaningless. The 'essoteric', external message, on the other hand, consisted precisely in these 'natural moral values'. The authentic philosopher must despise the beliefs of the people, but in public he must pretend to believe in the myths and illusions concocted for the use of the masses, he must conceal this contempt, and in fact make himself a vociferous advocate of the moral values suitable for the masses: religion, democracy, justice. Once again lessons reserved for the elect, elitism, counter-revolution. We have left the field of political influence for real politics. Strauss, who adopts an anti-egalitarian and aristocratic perspective similar to de Oliveira, goes into polemic with modernity and democratic concepts by explicitly revisiting the Platonic ' noble lie ' and affirming the necessity of using religion as a rhetorical tool to manipulate and control the masses. It is the doctrine of ' double truth ' whose first legitimation is the Platonic notion of the 'noble lie'. In Plato 's 'ideal city', the aristocracy of spirit and thought is legitimised to use deception for moral, educational and political purposes. In the book III of the Republic he writes: [...] God, when he formed you, mixed gold in the generation of those among you who are able to exercise power, so that they are the most precious; in that of the guards, silver; iron and bronze in that of the peasants and craftsmen.[...] the city will perish when it is protected by a defender of iron or bronze. The members of the TFP feel golden, probably also those of the CA. So when we point out the duplicity of CESNUR, since it is a cover office of a traditionalist Catholic organisation and at the same time a centre that carries out actions in favour of the sects most distant from Catholicism, we are not only talking about the banal lie of the mercenary hired by the cults, but also that of the elected, who are legitimised to the noble lie and the double truth. It is not surprising that one finds it morally practicable to resort to the noble lie 'ad usum populi' and profess the values of the democratic and liberal society that they inwardly despise. That they despise these values is clear from the oft-quoted genealogy of CESNUR. That it is a legitimate imposture to pose as defenders of religious freedom can be understood by considering the Platonism inherent in this genealogy. Unconventional warfare expert Jeffrey M. Bale , of the Middlebury Institute of International Studies, highlights the duplicity of CESNUR, calling it the most prominent case of an organisation that outwardly promotes political and religious agendas in the name of religious and democratic freedoms, but which in reality, "aim to defend extremist, totalitarian, and anti-democratic groups from investigation, criticism, and possible state repression, and more generally, to resist or even push back secular humanism, liberalism, and modernism in the West " (see part seven of the report). For the Italians, an excellent example of this double truth can be seen along the AC-CESNUR line: In 1994, the founder of Alleanza Cattolica, Cantoni, wrote an appeal entitled 'Let's stop the mass Radical Party '. He was referring to a well-known Italian political movement, the Radical Party founded by Marco Pannella. This party was characterised by the promotion of a strong liberalism both in the economic field and in the field of civil rights (divorce, abortion, homosexuality, liberalisation of drug trade, etc.) According to Cantoni, all progressive and secular parties formed a 'mass Radical Party' to which Catholics had to respond. The Radical Party thus became the embodiment of the enemy. Years later, Cantoni's heirs joined forces with Radical Party members to defend religious freedom. In 2012, for example, the president of CESNUR, Luigi Berzano, published a book against the proposed law on the crime of mental manipulation, the most notable contribution to which Mauro Mellini , one of the leading figures of the Radical Party, was the main contributor. Other contributions came from Massimo Introvigne , then leader of Alleanza Cattolica, as well as of CESNUR, and Fabrizio d'Agostini , a leading exponent of Scientology and founder of the European Federation for Freedom of Belief (FOB) . This is the same organisation whose scientific committee includes Introvigne's wife and whose founders include a member of the Radical Party , a certain Camillo Maffia.
If the observation 'the end justifies the means' seems trivial and disrespectful of the subtlety of Introvigne's thought, the logic of these traditionalists, who wage a war against secularism in the company of the paladins of secularism, is perhaps best described by the aforementioned doctrine of the double effect of St. Thomas Aquinas: 'The evil produced by an action directed towards the good does not invalidate the morality of the action itself'. It can be concluded that the reason why traditionalist Catholics, who are anti-ecumenical by nature, pursue the liberalisation of the religious market is based on an elitist view that legitimises the use of lying to the people as a rhetorical means of manipulation in the name of a good that is considered superior. False benevolence even towards abusive cults (St Thomas takes care of that anyway) is a means of combating Jacobinism, i.e. French-style laicism, in other words 'revolution' (or 'subversion' if you prefer Ousset).
The second reason why religious people seek the liberalisation of the faith market is an elitist notion that legitimises the use of lies as a rhetorical means of manipulation for the greater good. 3. the differentialist perspective Some advocates of what they call New Religious Movements seem to be entirely like the advocates of cultural differentialism , the political conception that is the proudest and bitterest enemy of liberalism and universal rights. The interesting thing is that the differentialist can appear to an inattentive eye to be a democrat and a liberal. Just like a cult apologist. In reality, the differentialist defends the ' right to difference ' of all cultures, i.e. he wants the preservation of peoples' identities. Although this may seem like an affirmation of universalism and ecumenism, the differentialist is an enemy of the open society . That is, he or her believes that 'strangers' must be preserved as such, living 'among themselves' and retaining their own cultural references and values because they are 'different' and must remain so. They defend their 'right to be different' in order to prevent other cultures from mixing or merging with their. This is called differentialist racism . This differentialism, which is a defence of one's own closed group, defends other closed groups against the claims of the open society so that it does not interfere with one's own group as well . Behind the libertarian and respectful proclamations of allogeneic cultures, this conception aims at restoring and defending individual cultures so that they become a counterweight to globalist ideology; that is, precisely to the universalism of human rights. Just as it is not surprising that the advocates of differentialism are representatives of the extreme political right who coin their own incongruent version of 'multiculturalism', so too it is not surprising that the defenders of the 'right to difference' of the 'cults' are often representatives of visions that are anything but ecumenical and propose their own incongruent version of 'ecumenism'. These, in fact, propose a 'multi-cultism' that is the mignon version of the multiculturalism of the Nouvelle Droite , but more akin to the "Pax Mafiosa". Thus, representatives of the most closed, illiberal and incompatible cults find themselves in the same associations defending religious freedom. High-ranking members of destructive cults known to the Chronicle, traditionalist Catholics, Satanists, Tantric sex gurus, believers in religions who believe that those who do not follow their faith are eternally damned, closed and intransigent micro-communities, all acting together (passionately) against those who denounce exploitation in cults. In the name of open society. Face/Off. THEN The defence of the right to difference by religious apologists is absolutely analogous to the defence of allogeneic cultures by proponents of differentialist racism. These do not at all believe that all ideas, beliefs and cultures are equal, but propose a 'multiculturalism' that allows the identities of each individual 'culture' to be protected, provided that this general law includes the protection of their own particular culture.
Notes de géopolitique des "sectes". Annexe: Face/Off
Luigi Corvaglia Parfois, les choses ne sont pas ce qu'elles semblent être. Parfois, elles sont exactement le contraire de ce qu'elles semblent être. L' excursus en sept parties sur la géopolitique des sectes proposé ici a, par exemple, montré comment s'est longtemps répandu un récit qui fait des défenseurs de ces totalitarismes non territoriaux que sont les "sectes" les champions des droits civiques et les défenseurs de la liberté religieuse. Au contraire, les universitaires et les associations qui dénoncent le travail des sectes abusives sont décrits comme hostiles à la liberté religieuse et à l'autodétermination des individus. Ceux qui ont lu le rapport savent bien à quel point cette dernière accusation est paradoxale quand on sait de quel contexte politique et culturel elle émane (parties trois , quatre , cinq et sept ). Comme dans le film Face/Off , le "bon" a pris le visage du "mauvais", et vice versa. Qu'une œuvre d'influence puisse aboutir à ce résultat en trompant le public non averti est aisément compréhensible. Cependant, le lecteur reste probablement avec la question insatisfaite de savoir comment certains apologistes de sectes qui professent croire en des versions non oecuméniques de leur foi peuvent défendre d'autres croyances, ou comment CESNUR , une organisation qui est née comme une émanation d'un groupe catholique traditionaliste comme Alleanza Cattolica ( quatrième partie ), peut devenir le comité de pilotage pour l'action coordonnée du réseau international de défense des sectes qui sont les plus éloignées du catholicisme. Je crois pouvoir contribuer, au moins partiellement, à la solution de ce paradoxe en me référant à trois conceptions - plus précisément à une doctrine, à une théorie et à une idée politique - qui sont les références culturelles de la direction du centre d'études de Turin. Voici une brève description de ces trois ensembles de notions. 1. La théorie de l'économie religieuse Rodney Stark est un américain je-sais-tout, qui promeut vivement le darwinisme dans tous les domaines sauf le seul qui lui est propre, la biologie (selon lui, l’évolution est une invention pour discréditer la religion). Ainsi condense le personnage le blogueur Miguel Martinez . Une synthèse efficace et salace qui s’enrichit dans les lignes suivantes : La principale préoccupation de Rodney Stark est de justifier théologiquement le néolibéralisme, comme en témoigne le titre triomphal de The Victory of Reason : How Christianity Led to Freedom, Capitalism, and Western Success ("La victoire de la raison. Comment le christianisme a conduit à la liberté, au capitalisme et au succès de l’Occident"). Un concept que nous pourrions traduire ainsi, "s’ils ont saisi ta maison, c’est parce que Jésus l’a voulu". L’auteur est intelligent et souligne assez bien les délais dans lesquels le " américain je-sais-tout" se déplace. Affirmer que Stark se limite à "justifier théologiquement le néolibéralisme" est cependant réducteur; en effet, il est surtout occupé à justifier néolibéralement la théologie. C’est le cas de procéder avec ordre. On peut dire mieux. Rodney Stark peut se considérer le fondateur de la Théorie de l’Économie Religieuse . Telle est la conception selon laquelle le marché religieux serait un "marché" assimilable en tout et pour tout à celui des marchandises. Comme sur tous les marchés, les différents consommateurs achètent des biens, qui sont ici les "biens religieux" (les différentes croyances) d’entreprises religieuses en concurrence entre elles (les religions plus ou moins organisées). En accord avec ce paradigme, la théorie soutient que - comme pour tout autre marché de biens matériels ou symboliques, et contrairement à ce que pensent certains théoriciens de la sécularisation - même pour la religion (institutionnelle), la concurrence est bonne pour le marché et, dans certaines limites, l’offre alimente la demande. Pour preuve, les auteurs qui travaillent dans le sillage de cette conception marchandiste tendent à faire remarquer que Les pays avec un plus large pluralisme religieux - c’est-à-dire avec la plus grande concurrence entre entreprises religieuses - comme les États-Unis (...), sont aussi les pays où le nombre total de pratiquants religieux se maintient stable ou croît. Tandis que, En revanche, là où l’État entrave le pluralisme religieux, notamment en s’opposant à l’entrée sur le marché de nouvelles entreprises, qualifiées de «sectes» ou d’ennemies de l’identité nationale, là-bas - comme en France et en Russie - le nombre de pratiquants religieux diminue généralement de manière spectaculaire. En d’autres termes, la conclusion est "plus de marché et moins d’État", selon le paradigme libéral classique. Cette position suppose deux conditions préalables et une hypothèse implicite. Le premier condition préalable c'est que l’augmentation du nombre des pratiquants des religions soit une donnée positive et recherchée; le second que le "consommateur", l’acteur qui réalise son choix sur le marché des croyances, soit "rationnel" et conscient de ce qu’il achète, Bref, que ce soit l’homo oeconomicus imaginé par l’économie néoclassique et qui tend à maximiser son utilité; l’hypothèse implicite de la théorie est que les diverses "entreprises" religieuses se concurrencent en essayant de mieux satisfaire les acheteurs pour lesquels elles sont en concurrence. Les conséquences sont diverses. En acceptant les hypothèses de base, il en résulte la nécessité d’une forte "libéralisation" du marché religieux. Stark et Iannaccone écrivent : Dans la mesure où une économie religieuse est compétitive et pluraliste, les niveaux globaux de participation religieuse auront tendance à être élevés. Au contraire, dans la mesure où une économie religieuse est monopolisée par une ou deux entreprises soutenues par l’État, les niveaux de participation ont tendance à être faibles dans l’ensemble. En somme, il semble que l’ennemi du marché religieux, comme de tout marché, soit les États; cela parce qu’on présume que les institutions étatiques favorisent des monopoles au détriment de la libre concurrence, en qualifiant les nouveaux candidats de "sectes" ou de cultes destructeurs. L’attrait que la Théorie de l’Économie Religieuse a pour certains apologistes des cultes trouve raison, bien sûr, dans cette conception idéologique qui réétiquet la critique des cultes abuseurs comme tentative d’étouffer le libre marché au profit de religions monopolistes et protégées par un État planificateur qui veut les protéger de la concurrence. On sous-entend donc que celle des anti-sectes soit une activité intéressée, opérée par des individus en quelque sorte liés aux appareils étatiques et/ou religieux. De toute évidence, ce ne sont que les grandes religions organisées qui peuvent avoir des prétentions monopolistiques, certainement pas les États laïcs de l’Occident, dont la laïcité est précisément la valeur fondatrice. Cependant, le mouvement anti-sectes n’a aucun rapport avec les religions institutionnelles, au point d’être accusé de "laïcité"... Le lecteur profane de l’économie religieuse reste cependant insatisfait de la curiosité de savoir comment les différentes religions peuvent rivaliser pour satisfaire les consommateurs mieux que la concurrence. La réponse est simple : les religions qui satisfont le plus les clients sont les plus exigeantes et restrictives. L’un des divulgateurs de cette conception mercatiste est Massimo Introvigne , le président du CESNUR . Celui-ci souligne beaucoup cet aspect de l’amélioration de la qualité de l’offre par les concurrents. Il écrit, par exemple : [...] il y a une sorte de combat darwinien dans le domaine religieux aussi. Les propositions religieuses les plus exigeantes tendent à prévaloir : parmi les juifs, les orthodoxes, dans l’islam, les fondamentalistes, et parmi les catholiques, les mouvements et les congrégations les plus rigides. La concurrence sélectionnerait les religions les plus rigides et les plus strictes dans leur exigence de conformité, en bref, les versions les plus fondamentalistes et les plus intégristes. Cette sélection des versions extrémistes peut s'expliquer par le phénomène des free riders, qui seraient, littéralement, ceux qui "voyagent sans billet". Ceux qui veulent bénéficier des avantages d'une entreprise collective mais ne veulent pas en payer les coûts voyagent sans billet. Dans le domaine religieux, l'entreprise collective est une église ou une confession religieuse. Une organisation peut tolérer quelques resquilleurs, c'est-à-dire des affiliés non engagés, mais pas trop. Introvigne écrit : Dans le domaine des religions, les organisations les moins strictes et les moins rigoureuses, qui imposent des droits d'entrée peu élevés et contrôlent de manière lâche si les membres ont payé leur ticket, c'est-à-dire s'ils sont suffisamment engagés, accueillent tellement de resquilleurs qu'elles offrent à leurs fidèles une expérience religieuse édulcorée et insatisfaisante, [...] Les organisations plus rigoureuses demandent un ticket plus cher, et contrôlent que tout le monde le paie : Elles laissent donc entrer moins de resquilleurs, et les biens symboliques produits par un groupe où les resquilleurs n'abondent pas sont généralement présentés comme plus satisfaisants aux consommateurs. On en conclut que le résultat de cette concurrence bénéfique entre les religions est une augmentation de la ferveur et de l'engagement religieux, c'est-à-dire une augmentation de ce qui est le plus hostile à la concurrence (en l'occurrence, de les autres engagements et les autres ferveurs). C'est une concurrence qui alimente les prétentions monopolistiques des fondamentalismes, incompatibles par définition. Une incompatibilité qui ne peut se composer et s'harmoniser dans un œcuménisme, précisément à cause de la rigidité choisie par le marché. En conclusion, tout représentant d'une vision spirituelle conservatrice qui souhaiterait la renforcer devrait s'efforcer de sauvegarder l'existence de toutes les autres religions, en défendant de toutes ses forces même les groupes spirituels les plus controversés (par exemple la Scientologie). Il obtiendrait ainsi le double effet de renforcer sa propre "Vérité" incontestable tout en passant - paradoxalement - pour un défenseur de la liberté religieuse. DONC La première raison pour laquelle des religieux peu enclins à l'œcuménisme peuvent poursuivre la libéralisation du marché des cultes est qu'ils croient que la concurrence permet non seulement la non-ingérence de l'État dans leur foi, mais même l'augmentation et la radicalisation de cette foi elle-même. 2. La doctrine de la double vérité Une deuxième raison pour laquelle des catholiques traditionalistes se font partisans de la "liberté religieuse" dépend d’un concept très simple, et c’est le mensonge . Il semble élémentaire et même naïf d’affirmer que le CESNUR et les organisations dans lesquelles se trouvent placés les différents personnages qui de ce centre d’études sont une expression feignent une préoccupation œcuménique pour la liberté religieuse et une attention pour les droits humains. Imaginer qu’il suffit , comme certains le supposent, le profit produit par les services rendus à la Scientology ou à d’autres cultes pour justifier l’hypocrisie des apologistes religieux est banal. Le précédent exposé sur la Théorie de l’Économie Religieuse est, en effet, exemplaire de la façon dont la logique derrière les comportements paradoxaux peut être beaucoup plus fine. Procédons dans l'ordre. Comme l'écrit Introvigne lui-même dans un article de "Cristianità" , les références culturelles de l'Alleanza Cattolica ont été le Français Jan Ousset et le Brésilien Plinio Corrrea de Oliveira . La filiation du CESNUR par Alleanza Cattolica est à son tour un fait incontestable, puisque le fondateur Introvigne lui-même a admis que le CESNUR était né sous l' impulsion d' Alleanza Cattolica comme une réponse apologétique dans le cadre de la lutte "entre la révolution et la contre-révolution" . En d'autres termes, l'arbre généalogique du CESNUR trouve ses ancêtres les plus proches dans les auteurs catholiques traditionalistes susmentionnés. Ousset est le fondateur de La Cité catholique , une association catholique contre-révolutionnaire dont l'objectif n'est pas la politique active mais la pré-politique. L'organisation repose sur l' infiltration des élites, seules capables de mener la reconquête d'une société en difficulté. Le groupe identifie la " subversion " comme la racine du mal et l'ennemi de la civilisation. La subversion (de l'ordre chrétien, de la loi naturelle et du dessein du Créateur) trouve son origine dans la Révolution française. Les travaux de la Cité catholique ont inspiré une association née quelques mois plus tôt à Madrid sous la protection du gouvernement fasciste de Franco, l' OAS (Organisation armée secrète). L'OAS était une organisation paramilitaire clandestine française active pendant la guerre d'Algérie et dont le slogan était "l'Algérie française ou la mort". Elle a causé environ 1 500 morts en quinze mois par des attentats terroristes d'une férocité sans précédent. La proximité du traditionalisme catholique avec les meurtres et les attentats peut sembler étrange, mais c'est là que réside l'aspect le plus intéressant. Dans les milieux catholiques liés aux hiérarchies militaires, par exemple, la pratique de la torture en Algérie a été considérée comme digne d'absolution sur la base de la pensée d'Aristote, de Thomas d'Aquin et d'Augustin d'Hippone. Louis Delarue, aumônier d'une unité déployée en Algérie, disait qu'il fallait choisir entre deux maux, et que faire souffrir temporairement un bandit qui méritait la peine de mort était le moindre. La meilleure justification est probablement la doctrine du double effet de saint Thomas d'Aquin: "Le mal produit par une action orientée vers le bien n'invalide pas la moralité de l'action elle-même".
Nous avons donc affaire aux éléments clés suivants : l'élitisme, la pré-politique (le travail d'influence culturelle sur l'élite), la contre-révolution et la justification d'actions répréhensibles par des élucubrations philosophiques (surtout St. Thomas). Nous reviendrons sur ces éléments. L'autre référence de l'Alliance catholique est Plinio Correa de Oliveira, avec son ouvrage Tradition, famille et propriété . Son livre "Révolution et contre-révolution" a été le manuel de formation des adhérents de l'AC. Il est bien connu que TFP mène la même lutte que Ousset contre la modernité, que de Oliveira définit non pas comme "subversion" mais comme "révolution". Selon l'historien Orlando Fedeli , membre depuis trente ans, Tradition, Famille et Propriété serait un culte gnostique millénaire . En effet, elle aurait une doctrine extérieure et un enseignement secret réservé aux plus hauts niveaux de connaissance. Les enseignements "ésotériques" de De Oliveira, que l'on peut également lire dans la revue "Dr Plinio" dirigée par Monseigneur João Scognamiglio Clá Dias, étaient axés sur la " supériorité métaphysique " de la noblesse, en particulier de la noblesse foncière sud-américaine. On peut y voir la trace fidèle de la hiérarchie platonicienne et de l'idée gnostique d'un salut réservé au seul "spirituel" (et d'une condamnation partielle du "psychique" et totale de l'"ilique"). L'anti-égalitarisme de TFP génère chez les militants un mépris de classe , un goût pour le luxe et l'oisiveté . Dans le reportage de Joyeux sur l'école TFP de Saint-Benoît, on peut lire que la dureté de cœur et la haine flagrante des gens ordinaires caractérisent le comportement quotidien de la plupart des militants de la TFP. Tout ce qui est luxe, faste et oisiveté est perçu comme contre-révolutionnaire et déclenche un sentiment de fierté lié à l'appartenance à une élite destinée. En effet, la mentalité révolutionnaire se caractérisant par une exaltation virulente du paupérisme, la PTF agit en affirmant systématiquement le contraire. Pour comprendre l'élitisme de De Oliveira, il suffit de savoir qu'il n'a jamais soutenu l'"intégrisme", la version brésilienne du fascisme, parce qu'il le considérait trop "interclassiste" et "socialiste" et pas assez ouvert aux exigences de la supériorité métaphysique de l'aristocratie foncière.
Nous savons qu'à un moment donné, il a été utile pour la TFP de travailler avec des représentants et des associations du conservatisme américain tels que Paul Weyrich et le Council for National Policy (CNP) . Il s'agit d'une organisation secrète, décrite par le New York Times comme "un club peu connu de quelques centaines de conservateurs parmi les plus influents du pays", qui se réunit trois fois par an à huis clos dans des lieux non divulgués pour une conférence confidentielle. Au moment où la Conférence épiscopale brésilienne accuse le TFP de ne pas être en communion avec l'Église de Rome, de Oliveira et ses disciples acquièrent une vision qui voit dans l'Amérique chrétienne la seule force contre-révolutionnaire capable de répondre au sécularisme européen, fruit de la Révolution française, et à la "marxisation" de l'Église latine, qui est allée jusqu'à critiquer la tradition.
Ses consœurs européennes, telles que l' Alliance catholique, ont également adopté la même position, joignant leurs efforts dans la lutte contre la laïcité au monde du néo-conservatisme américain et embrassant la défense de la liberté religieuse.
Emanuele del Medico écrit à propos de l'Alleanza Cattolica : Les objectifs que se fixe cet "apostolat contre-révolutionnaire" concernent avant tout la lutte contre la laïcité, la réécriture de la mémoire historique et le contrôle de la production idéologique de la droite italienne par la création d'une élite intellectuelle restreinte qui donnerait ensuite naissance à la future classe dirigeante . L'"établissement de la royauté du Christ même sur les sociétés humaines" se traduirait par la restauration des hiérarchies traditionnelles , dans le cadre d'une société d'ordre, où la religion reprendrait un rôle prépondérant de contrôle social et de légitimation du pouvoir politique et économique [...] Le projet sous-jacent ne consiste pas tant à porter haut le drapeau du traditionalisme catholique qu'à fonder une droite néo-libérale hyper-conservatrice sur le modèle des Etats-Unis. Pour mener à bien sa politique d'entrisme, outre la revue "Cristianità" et les éditions éponymes, le groupe s'appuierait sur un certain nombre d'organisations apparemment sans lien entre elles, mais dirigées par ses hommes. C'est le cas du Cesnur (Centre d'études sur les nouvelles religions) dirigé par Massimo Introvigne, l'un des cinq "consultants" du synode de l'Alliance catholique. Le gras est mon. En définitive, AC et CESNUR poursuivent le projet néo-conservateur en l'abordant d'un point de vue élitiste et en menant une politique d'influence culturelle. Il est donc intéressant de se pencher sur les racines de l'idée qu'Introvigne et son équipe ont si passionnément embrassée, à savoir le mouvement néo-conservateur américain. Leo Strauss est considéré, à tort ou à raison, comme son inspirateur. Il était convaincu que tous les grands auteurs écrivaient sous une forme déguisée pour le peuple, une forme "exotérique", et qu'il fallait trouver les indices de la vérité "ésotérique" entre les lignes. Cette vérité, réservée à ceux qui peuvent la supporter, comme les élèves choisis par le maître (qu'il rebaptisait "hoplites"), consiste en la prise de conscience nihiliste que la seule vérité est le néant et que tous les principes moraux sont vides de sens. Le message extérieur, "essotérique", consiste précisément en ces "valeurs morales naturelles". Le philosophe authentique doit mépriser les croyances du peuple, mais en public, il doit faire semblant de croire aux mythes et aux illusions concoctés à l'usage des multitudes, dissimuler ce mépris et, en fait, se faire l'avocat des valeurs morales qui conviennent aux masses: la religion, la démocratie, la justice. Encore des leçons réservées aux élus, de l'élitisme, de la contre-révolution. Nous avons quitté le champ de l'influence politique pour la politique réelle.
Strauss, adoptant une perspective anti-égalitaire et aristocratique similaire à celle de de Oliveira, entre en polémique avec la modernité et les conceptions de type démocratique en récupérant explicitement le " noble mensonge " platonicien et en affirmant la nécessité d'utiliser la religion comme instrument rhétorique de manipulation et de domination des masses. Il s'agit de la doctrine de la " double vérité ", dont la première légitimation est la notion platonicienne de " noble mensonge ". Dans la "cité idéale" de Platon , l'aristocratie de l'esprit et de la pensée est légitimée à utiliser la tromperie à des fins morales, éducatives et politiques. Dans le livre III de La République, Platon écrit : [...] Dieu, en vous formant, a mêlé de l'or à la génération de ceux d'entre vous qui sont capables d'exercer le pouvoir, de sorte qu'ils sont les plus précieux ; de l'argent à celle des gardes ; du fer et du bronze à celle des paysans et des artisans [...] la cité périra si elle est protégée par un défenseur de fer ou d'airain. Les membres du TFP se sentent dorés, probablement aussi ceux de l'AC. Ainsi, en soulignant la duplicité du CESNUR, qui est à la fois la façade d'une organisation catholique traditionaliste et un centre qui produit des actions en faveur des cultes les plus éloignés du catholicisme, nous ne parlons pas seulement du mensonge banal du mercenaire engagé par les cultes, mais aussi de celui de l'élu légitimé au noble mensonge et à la double vérité. Il n'est pas surprenant que l'on trouve moralement pratique de recourir "ad usum populi" au noble mensonge consistant à professer les valeurs de la société démocratique et libérale que l'on méprise intérieurement. Il n’est pas surprenant que l’on trouve moralement praticable le recours "ad usum populi" au noble mensonge de professer les valeurs de la société démocratique et libérale que l’on méprise intérieurement. Que ces valeurs les méprisent est évident à plusieurs reprises dans la généalogie du CESNUR. Que se placer comme défenseurs de la liberté religieuse soit une imposture légitimée, on le comprend en raisonnant sur le platonisme inhérent à cette généalogie. L'expert en guerre non conventionnelle Jeffrey M. Bale , de l' Institut d'études internationales de Middlebury, souligne la duplicité du CESNUR, qu'il considère comme le cas le plus flagrant d'une organisation qui promeut extérieurement des programmes politiques et religieux au nom des libertés religieuses et démocratiques, mais qui, en réalité, "vise à défendre les groupes extrémistes, totalitaires et antidémocratiques contre les enquêtes, les critiques et une éventuelle répression de l'État et, plus généralement, à résister à l'humanisme séculier, au libéralisme et au modernisme en Occident, voire à les faire régresser" (voir la septième partie du rapport). Pour les Italiens, un excellent exemple de cette double vérité se trouve sur la ligne AC-CESNUR : En 1994, le fondateur de l'Alleanza Cattolica, Cantoni, a écrit un appel intitulé "Arrêtons le parti radical de masse ". Il faisait référence à un mouvement politique italien bien connu, le Parti radical fondé par Marco Pannella. Ce parti se caractérisait par la promotion d'un libéralisme fort tant dans le domaine économique que dans celui des droits civils (divorce, avortement, homosexualité, libéralisation du trafic de drogue, etc. Selon Cantoni, tous les partis progressistes et laïques formaient un "Parti radical de masse" auquel les catholiques devaient répondre. Le parti radical devenait ainsi l'incarnation de l'ennemi. Des années plus tard, les héritiers de Cantoni ont joint leurs forces à celles des membres du Parti radical pour défendre la liberté religieuse. En 2012, par exemple, le président du CESNUR, Luigi Berzano, a publié un livre contre la proposition de loi sur le délit de manipulation mentale, dont la contribution la plus remarquable était celle de Mauro Mellini , l'une des figures de proue du parti radical. D'autres contributions ont été apportées par Massimo Introvigne , alors dirigeant de l'Alleanza Cattolica, ainsi que du CESNUR, et Fabrizio d'Agostini , l' un des principaux représentants de la Scientologie et fondateur de la Fédération européenne pour la liberté de croyance (FOB) . Il s'agit de la même organisation dont le comité scientifique comprend l' épouse d'Introvigne et qui compte parmi ses fondateurs un membre du parti radical , un certain Camillo Maffia. Si l'observation "la fin justifie les moyens" semble triviale et irrespectueuse de la subtilité de la pensée d'Introvigne, la logique de ces traditionalistes, qui mènent une guerre contre la laïcité en compagnie des paladins de la laïcité, est peut-être mieux décrite par la doctrine précitée du double effet de saint Thomas d'Aquin : "Le mal produit par une action dirigée vers le bien n'invalide pas la moralité de l'action elle-même". On peut donc conclure que la raison pour laquelle les catholiques traditionalistes, anti-œcuméniques par nature, poursuivent la libéralisation du marché religieux repose sur une conception élitiste qui légitime l'usage du mensonge au peuple comme outil rhétorique de manipulation au nom d'un bien considéré comme supérieur. La fausse bienveillance à l'égard des cultes même abusifs (saint Thomas s'en charge d'ailleurs) est un outil de lutte contre le jacobinisme, c'est-à-dire la laïcité à la française, autrement dit la "révolution" (ou la "subversion", si l'on préfère Ousset).
La deuxième raison pour laquelle les personnes religieuses peuvent chercher à libéraliser le marché de la foi est une conception élitiste qui légitime l'utilisation du mensonge comme outil rhétorique de manipulation pour le plus grand bien. 3. la perspective différentialiste Certains défenseurs de ce qu'ils appellent les nouveaux mouvements religieux semblent être parfaitement homologues aux partisans du différentialisme culturel , la conception politique dont le libéralisme et les droits universels sont les ennemis les plus fiers et les plus acharnés. Ce qui est intéressant, c'est que le différentialiste peut apparaître à un œil inattentif comme un démocrate et un libéral. Exactement comme un apologiste de secte. En fait, le différentialiste défend le " droit à la différence " de toutes les cultures, c'est-à-dire qu'il veut préserver l'identité des peuples. Bien que cela puisse apparaître comme une affirmation de l'universalisme et de l'œcuménisme, le différentialiste est un ennemi de la société ouverte . C'est-à-dire qu'il pense que les "étrangers" doivent rester en tant que tels, vivre "entre eux" et conserver leurs propres références culturelles et valeurs, parce qu'ils "sont différents" et doivent le rester. Il défend leur "droit à la différence" précisément pour éviter que d'autres cultures ne se mélangent ou ne fusionnent avec la sienne. C'est ce que l'on appelle le racisme différentialiste . Ce différentialisme, qui est une défense de son propre groupe fermé, défend les autres groupes fermés contre les revendications de la société ouverte, afin qu'ils n'interfèrent pas également dans son propre groupe . Derrière les proclamations libertaires et respectueuses des cultures allogènes, cette conception vise la récupération et la défense des cultures individuelles afin qu'elles deviennent un contrepoids à l'idéologie mondialiste, et donc précisément à l'universalisme des droits de l'homme. De même qu'il n'est pas surprenant que les partisans du différentialisme soient des représentants de l'extrême droite politique qui inventent leur propre version incongrue du "multiculturalisme", de même il n'est pas étrange que les défenseurs du "droit à la différence" des "sectes" soient souvent des représentants de visions qui sont tout sauf œcuméniques et qui proposent leur propre version incongrue de l'"œcuménisme". Ceux-ci proposent en fait un "multicultisme", qui est la version mignonne du multiculturalisme de la Nouvelle Droite , mais qui ressemble davantage à la "pax mafiosa". Ainsi, les représentants des cultes les plus fermés, les plus illibéraux et les plus incompatibles se retrouvent dans les mêmes associations de défense de la liberté religieuse. Des membres haut placés de sectes destructrices connues de la chronique, des catholiques traditionalistes, des satanistes, des gourous du sexe tantrique, des croyants de religions qui pensent que ceux qui ne suivent pas leur credo sont damnés pour l'éternité, des micro-communautés fermées et intransigeantes, tous ensemble (passionnément) contre ceux qui dénoncent l'exploitation dans les sectes. Au nom de la société ouverte. Face/Off. DONC La défense du droit à la différence par les apologistes religieux est tout à fait analogue à la défense des cultures allogènes par les partisans du racisme différentialiste. Ceux-ci ne croient pas du tout que toutes les idées, croyances et cultures sont équivalentes, mais proposent un "multiculturalisme" qui permet de sauvegarder les identités de chaque "culture" individuelle dans la mesure où cette loi générale implique la sauvegarde de sa propre culture.
Salò, or the 120 days of Mouseton
A few weeks before his death, Walt Disney demonstrated to Florida state authorities that there was more to fantasy worlds than just drawing them. In fact, Sunshine State officials had received a short 24-minute film from Disney's offices featuring a visionary project called Experimental Prototype COmmunity of Tomorrow (EPCOT) . It was about a private ideal city to be built in the heart of the state. The structure envisioned by Disney was to house 20,000 people in a huge circular area divided into concentric circles, with a thirty-meter tower at its center surrounded by offices and shopping areas. Public buildings, schools and sports facilities were to be built around this center. In the outermost circle, after a large green area, residential areas were to be built. Cars would have been banned from the surface and relegated to underground streets, while public transportation would consist of vehicles on monorails called "people movers." A giant dome would have covered the city to regulate the climate. So far, Disney's project seems to be only a foreshadowing of the " new urbanism " of the 1990s. In fact, in his eyes, EPCOT was to be a test case not only for urban design but also for social organization. Walt Disney stated, "It'll be a planned and controlled community, a showcase for American industry, for research and schools, an opportunity for culture and education." Walt Disney's plan called for none of the residents to own their homes, so no one could legally vote, leaving Disney's hands free to manage the community without unwanted citizen representatives. The fact that it was a private town also protected it from interference by Florida authorities. Disney had total control, set permits and prohibitions, and even held citizenship rights. Retired and unemployed people had no chance for citizenship. No ghettos, just cleanliness and social order. The "prototype of the experimental community of tomorrow" thus ceases to be a realized Mouseton and takes on the disturbing features of a totalitarian dystopia in pastel colors. Many have already noticed this, and the parallels between EPCOT and the Seahaven of "The Truman Show" suggested by the well-known 1998 film are self-evident. What few have pointed out, however, is the similarity between Disney's project and Jeremy Bentham's Panopticon . It begins with the same radiating topographical structure. In fact, the English philosopher had designed a circular prison that allowed a single warden to observe all prisoners at all times. The peculiarity, however, was that the prisoners couldn't tell whether they were being watched or not. As a result, they found it convenient to always behave under the assumption that they were being watched. The result was the internalized sense of the invisible guard's omniscience. According to Bentham, the prolonged persistence of this condition would cause the inmates to fully internalize their righteous behavior and thus indelibly change their character. The philosopher himself described panopticism as "a new way of acquiring power over the mind, in a way and to a degree never before seen." The idea that the lack of visible control leads to the self-suppression of the individual and thus to social order brings us to a third figure: the psychologist Burrhus Skinner . From his experiments on "operant conditioning" with cats, mice, and pigeons, Skinner derived the idea that with appropriate "reinforcers" or "positive consequences of behavior" - i.e., rewards - and "aversive stimuli" - i.e., punishments - it's possible to empirically condition all kinds of behavior. The Panopticon theorist, Jeremy Bentham, saw the instrumental use of pleasure and pain as man's "only two masters." Skinner didn't limit himself to this, but went further, writing a utopian novel that took ispiration from David Thoureau . The latter had lived his utopia in the Arcadian seclusion of Walden, a resort near Concord where he could escape the norms of community. Thoureau's utopia, then, was an escape from control (and, let's face it, taxes). Skinner's novel instead described a society of control, unabashedly calling it "Walden Two." In it, he hypothesized a "perfect society" in which all people are as "conditioned" as his pigeons. He was also convinced that "the control of the entire population must be delegated to specialists: Policemen, priests, businessmen, teachers, therapists, etc., who've special reinforcers and codified reinforcement contingencies." Skinner was unequivocal:
A state that turns all its citizens into spies, or a religion that promotes the concept of an omniscient God, eliminates any possibility of evading punishment, thus giving extreme effectiveness to the punitive system. People behave well even though there's no discernible surveillance. The overlap with Bentham's idea of behavior modification through the perception of invisible control is total. What Skinner proposes, then, is a universalized panopticon. This condition would be ideal because, in Skinner's words, freedom "obviously" increases as visible control decreases. We don't know what the psychologist would have thought if he'd seen how differential reinforcement according to "ability to obey laws" and similar "protocols for behavioral reinforcement and extinction" characterize the current "social credit system" in China. In that country, millions of cameras, capable of recognizing anyone within seven minutes thanks to sophisticated facial recognition software, metaphorically form the all-seeing eye that Bentham put at the center of his famous sketch of the panopticon. To this point, however, we remain close to the abused discourse of control and disciplinary society that made Michel Foucault and his epigones famous. These claimed that even democratic society is a diffuse institution based on the asymmetry of power (e.g., the "seeing-being-seen" asymmetry). Here, however, we want to propose a new consideration that starts from the same basis. That's, we ask whether it's possible to draw the line to abuse of power at the point where obedience and submission don't require visible coercion or force. Consequently, we ask whether the consent of the victim can be a valid indicator of the absence of such abuse. To try to answer these questions, we introduce another figure who's perhaps the furthest from Walt Disney that we've started from: Pier Paolo Pasolini . The latter was the most famous Italian intellectual when he set out to make the film "Salò or the 120 Days of Sodom" in 1975. The author's goal was to depict the "anarchy of power," that's, the ability of power to make its own laws. In the film, the fascist hierarchs announce to the boys the strict rules that apply in the villa where they've locked them up, arbitrarily set by the hierarchs themselves. They'll then lead them into hellish circles of aberration, vice, perversion and violence. It's interesting to note that for the filming of his spiritual testament, Pasolini confined the cast and crew to a villa in Tuscany for months. Here a state of group dissociation from the outside world emerged, and a peculiar state of mind, described thus by one of the people who worked on the film: The particular atmosphere created tension, it seemed almost unreal to live in another reality, there was a lot of silence to focus on what we were experiencing and acting. Then, as the months went by, a form of enthusiasm grew in us that made us empathize with the characters in these situations. Just look at how the guys who played the collaborators were completely out of their minds by the end. I don't know if they'd been drinking or what, but something sinister was strong in them, they were really scary. We've to remember that it took four, five months to shoot, and by the end we were all over it. When we walked off the set, it felt like the world was a different reality, not the real one. The immersion of the actors who played the fascists in their role as sadistic rapists made the actors who suffered their aggressions and humiliations real victims. This can only recall the famous Stanford Prison Experiment conducted by Phil Zimbardo in 1971. In the experiment, volunteers who agreed to participate were randomly assigned the roles of guards and prisoners in a replica prison at the University of California. After a few days, the "jailers" began to harass the "prisoners." The guards forced the prisoners to sing obscene songs, defecate in buckets they weren't allowed to empty, clean latrines with their bare hands, and so on. The same situation was humorously portrayed in the 1998 film "Train de vie," about a group of Jews who, in order to escape the Shoah, pretend to have been deported by the Nazis, who were also Jews in disguise, but who end up playing the roles of their tormentors too well. The actors who were harassed on the set of "Salò" described the humiliations they suffered as real humiliations, and their identification was so great that quite a few threw up after the coprophagy scenes. However, no one shirked. The consent was confirmed by a contract and justified by the expected remuneration for the performance. Raffaele Ventura, in an article in Esquire, rightly stated, "It's his prestige as an intellectual, his special role at the heart of capitalist society, that's given Pasolini the power to humiliate people; or, if you like, to make them choose to be humiliated. Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom , can thus be considered an artistic counterpart to a famous social psychology experiment conducted by Stanley Milgram in 1961." This reflection describes the two fundamental aspects of the matter. The first concerns what psychologists call "charisma." Prestige, power, culture, and age placed the revered teacher in a position of authority and gave him increased suggestive power. It's therefore particularly interesting to refer to Stanley Milgram. The latter proved with his famous experiment that people can go so far out of pure obedience as to administer high-voltage electric shocks to a subject, even when the subject is obviously in great pain. It's precisely Milgram's experience with the slow development of obedience to orders that move further and further away from what one would initially be willing to obey that the author of this text has placed at the center of a model of induced subordination in "coercive groups." Consider Scientology, various Orientalist cults that have made headlines for exploiting followers, radical religious or political groups, certain church groups, and also monasteries from which stories of abuse are increasingly emerging. This is of particular interest because various zealous defenders of such sodalities appeal exclusively to the self-determination of members and seem blind to the mechanisms of persuasion and control that undermine that self-determination at its root; mechanisms, incidentally, that are well known to social psychology. The separation from the outside world, the panoptic control over individual behavior, and the enforced submission found in these aggregates describe the anarchy of power that Pasolini, in denouncing it, unwittingly realized. Defenders of "microfascisms" and their demiurges, grasp Mouseton and not Panopticon, Thoureau's Walden and not Skinner's. The moral question of degradation and exploitation cannot be resolved with the simple excuse of initial "consent" or the free choice to withdraw it. When McMurphy, the character played by Jack Nicholson in "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest," found out that most of the inmates of the mental hospital where they were victimized were voluntarily committed but didn't leave the institution, he understood the lesson of Etienne de La Boétie : people voluntarily submit to power. The Truman Burbank of " The Truman Show " was free to leave his little island, but the fear of the outside world instilled in his world by the Director-Demiurge kept him in what he considered a safe haven (Seahaven, indeed). Of course, a democratic and liberal society cannot hinder freedom of association and the free exercise of religion, but it must, even at the risk of losing the preconditions for democracy and freedom, prevent abuses of power by first reducing the opportunities for them. The stubborn efforts of some who're willing to rebuke China's Skinnerian totalitarianism but diligently defend non-territorial totalitarianism in the name of principles that sell themselves as "liberal" go in the opposite direction. They defend a "multiculturalism" made up of identities that don't want to abide by the liberal and democratic principles that apply outside their borders. Therein already lies the absurdity of the claim to defend these closed worlds - and to put up a shield for the abuse of power that takes place there - by invoking liberal-democratic principles that they themselves don't recognize within them. The current clash of civilizations is presented as a struggle between the open society and despotism, but it's paradoxical that a free society doesn't also take care of the sovereignties that proliferate in its own body.
Notes on the geopolitics of cults. Part 7: Inception
Luigi Corvaglia Prologue In May 2019, while I and my colleagues from the Center for the Study of Psychological Abuse (CeSAP) were attending a congress in central Turin, another event was taking place nearby. CESNUR awarded the FIRMA ( International Festival of Religions, Music and Arts ) prize at the Salone del Libro, a famous book fair. This prize is awarded to individuals who have excelled in promoting peace through interfaith dialog. The prize was awarded to Marco Respinti , director of Bitter Winter (who, it must be said, was in his home, as he is a member of CESNUR), Apostle Naasón Joaquín García , leader of the Luz del Mundo Church, and Greg Mitchell , founder of the International Religious Freedom Roundtable . As an aside, Naasón Joaquín García was arrested in Los Angeles a few weeks after receiving the award as a human rights advocate and author of charitable works on 26 charges, including human trafficking, production of child pornography, and rape of minors . The trial ended with a plea bargain of the apostle and his sentence to 17 years in prison . Although a figure as colorful as the Mexican Apostle can steal the show with such plot twists, which are not without irony, it is the American winner of the award, Greg Mitchell , who deserves our attention. We have already met him. He is the chief lobbyist of Scientology (see the second part of this investigation). Not only are the activities of this follower of the American religious holding company regularly reported on institutional websites, but Mitchell himself stated in an interview with Business Insider that the Church's lobbying work with the U.S. government is currently focused not on promoting Scientology, but on promoting 'religious freedom.' This work "often involves working with other religious organizations to encourage the U.S. to put pressure on foreign countries that persecute religious groups ." Similarly, the actor Tom Cruise , who is Scientology's ambassador for Europe, expressly wrote to the US Council of State in 2003: I appreciate the precious assistance that the State Department has given members of my Church in protecting their rights, especially in Europe. Lastly, I am scheduled to travel to Europe in January to promote my next film and am planning on again meeting with our Ambassadors in France, Germany and possibly Belgium to work with them on pressing these nationals for more dialogue and action to resolve these matter [...] this situation is by no means a publicity activity for me. This is a matter that is both important and personal, and that is why I am looking to my government’s assistance… There you have it. Pressure on other countries-preferably when they are not "allied"-for their actual or perceived interference or restriction in religious affairs is thus not a conclusion based on clues, but a stated intention pursued by a variety of actors who, albeit with different motivations, believe such action to be congruent. A confluence of interests, even if with theoretically opposing goals. For this reason, Christian fundamentalists find it useful to defend cults that are far from Christianity . An example of this convergence is found in the article of the European Federation for Freedom of Belief (FOB) mentioned in the first part of this report. This calls for the countries on the watch list of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) to be expanded to include all countries where associations or individuals belonging to the anti-cult federation FECRIS are active. These countries would be in addition to "traditional" countries such as France, Russia, and China. As for Russia, which was the subject of Part Four , the role of Scientology , which is banned in that country, may have been considerable in activating the campaign that has taken on the grotesque proportions we have described. Indeed, in 2012, Mitchell accepted two payments of $20,000 each from Scientology to lobby the White House, the State Department, the Justice Department, and other agencies for greater U.S. engagement on Russia's "growing restrictions...that contribute to an atmosphere of intolerance and discrimination against religious communities and their individual members." On the Russian issue, Mitchell circulated a letter signed by "35 religious and human rights organizations," including the Church of Scientology itself, expressing concern about the situation. These groups are believed to be members of an "informal" organization called the International Religious Freedom Roundtable , which is headed by Mitchell himself. The other co-chair is Chris Seiple . He is the sone of someone we have already met, Anton R. Seiple , the first president of the Office of International Religious Freedom (OIRF )! (see the first part of this report). Currently, Seiple is also director of the Institute for Global Engagement (IGE) , which describes itself as a "think-and-do- tank operating at the intersection of religion, realpolitik, and reconciliation." A former conservative evangelical Marine, he was also an advisor to the U.S. Secretary of State and co-chair of the working group on Religion and Foreign Policy, whose recommendations led to the creation of the Office of Religion and Global Affairs . A very close connection, then, between the U.S. government and Scientology. The circle is closed. Many influential politicians in the USA who have been engaged for Scientology. For some of them, a dependency can be proven because of election campaign donations by Scientologists. An outdated list can be found on the web. The question is: If it is clear why Scientology needs the state, why does the state need Scientology? Heterogenesis of the ends In 2019, the Scientology front organization Fundación para la Mejora de la Vida, la Cultura y la Sociedad was granted Special Advisory Status by the United Nations . The Foundation is headed by Ivan Arjona Pelado , a senior member of the Church's intelligence agency, the Office for Special Affairs (OSA) . This status will enhance Scientology's ability to speak to the United Nations and also allow it to hold conferences under the umbrella of UN, bringing in new political allies from around the world. Last year, Ivan Pelado, Greg Mitchell and Eric Roux , a leading Scientology figure in Europe and head of OSA, attended a religious freedom summit in Brussels organized by ACRE, the Alliance of Conservatives and Reformists in Europe . This is a Eurosceptic political group in the European Parliament. The most distinguished participants were Ahmed Shaheed , special rapporteur for human rights at the Human Rights Council UN, and Sam Brownback , former governor of Kansas and U.S. ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom until Biden's election. Brownback's office published the State Department's annual report on international religious freedom . USCIRF elected Brownback as ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom in 2018 . Other speakers included Willy Fautrè , president of Human Rights Without Frontiers (HRWF) , the guy who stole my place in line at OSCE ( part two ), and Patricia Duval , a French lawyer who is rarely absent from Scientology panels and who sits on the scientific committee of the Italian European Federation for Freedom of Religion (FOB) and is among the authors of Bitter Winter and the Journal of CESNUR . Also present was Bashy Quraishy of EMISCO, an association that fights against anti-Islamic prejudice but strangely wages a battle against the anti-cult movement. I was there in person in Copenhagen in 2013 when he infiltrated the FECRIS Congress as an accredited journalist. He started asking the president why FECRIS was recreating the Inquisition. When he was recognized, he was chased away. Downstairs, a group of Scientologists was waiting for him. The next day, he claimed on his private TV, that he had been beaten up by FECRIS. The plots and plans are as complex as in a Christopher Nolan movie. Another area related to this theme is the world of 'Christianists' (a term used to define the use of Christianity for political purposes) and pro-market associations, the prototype of which is the Acton Institute , founded in 1990 by Robert Sirico and Betsy DeVos . Sirico is a Catholic priest - formerly a Pentecostal -, and supporter of anarcho-capitalism , who was arrested in 1976 for organizing an auction of male slaves found naked and with sadomasochistic paraphernalia in a Los Angeles club. The second, DeVos , belongs to the family that owns Amway . The latter organization and others associated with it fund the Acton Institute, which, incidentally, is headquartered in the same city as Amway, Grand Rapids, Michigan. Amway is a multinational multi-level marketing (MLM) company that distributes various soaps and detergents and whose executives are evangelical activists closely associated with the American economic, political and military Right who claim to speak directly to God. Many Amway distributors are Scientologists . After all, in America they say "Amway is much like Scientology, but with soap." This multinational Ponzi scheme is in turn part of a vast network of Christian-pro-free market organizations called the Atlas Network , controlled by the Atlas Institute , which explicitly refers to the thought of Ayn Rand . Ayn Rand was a thinker who extolled the virtues of selfishness and capitalism, and the author of the "superhumanist" novel Atlas Shrugged , hence the name of the Institute. Ayn Rand is a source of inspiration for some of libertarian thought. However, many do not recognize themselves in her absolute lack of compassion and charity toward others. Indeed, Rand considered altruism "immoral." Unchristianly, the leading figure in the galaxy of these Christian associations believed that it was unjust and immoral to sacrifice oneself for others. In 1992, the Vietnamese archbishop Francois X Nguyen Van Thuan, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, granted Sirico access to the Vatican. In 2004, he was even among the editors of the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church , the same doctrine that Sirico, as a rampant free market advocate, fought against throughout his life. In 2001, in Italy, Robert Sirico was among the signatories of a manifesto in favor of capitalist globalization, along with Michael Novak , a leading theocon theorist, and a large part of the board of Alleanza Cattolica , the organization of which Massimo Introvigne , founder of CESNUR and editor of the magazine Bitter Winter ( which deals with the Chinese persecution of religious minorities ), was the "reggente vicario." Members of American government structures dedicated to the defense of religious pluralism were or still are prominent members of organizations belonging to the constellation led by Amway and the Atlas Network . If we take only USCIRF , the bipartisan commission on International Religious Freedom that produced the report that began this journey into the geopolitics (i.e., the report that called on Trump to obstruct my work at OSCE ), we find members of the Federalist Society (such as Leonard Leo , chairman of USCIRF in 2009), the American Enterprise Institute (such as John R. Bolton, former commissioner), or related organizations such as the Hudson Institute (such as Nury Turkel , commissioner). In 2018, USCIRF endorsed Ambassador for International Religious Freedom Senator Sam Brownback , who was among the speakers at the Brussels convention, along with Scientology and Euroskeptic politicians. His Kansas campaign was funded by Koch Industries , which is one of the founders of the anarcho-capitalist, Amway-affiliated Americans for Prosperity . Lee Fang writes: The story of the Atlas Network and its profound impact on ideology and political power has never been fully told. But business filings and records from three continents, along with interviews with libertarian leaders across the hemisphere, reveal the scope of its influential history. The libertarian network, which has reshaped political power in country after country, has also operated as a quiet extension of U.S. foreign policy, with Atlas-associated think tanks receiving quiet funding from the State Department and the National Endowment for Democracy , a critical arm of American soft power (bold mine, text here ) To understand that there is more than mutual esteem between conservative foundations and think tanks and cult organizations and their apologists, one need only look at the network at the center of which was the late Paul Weyrich . The latter founded both the Heritage Foundation and the Free Congress Foundation , of which he was president, as well as the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) , described as "the largest non-partisan organization of legislators dedicated to the principles of limited government, free markets and federalism" Above all, however, Weyrich was one of the founders and one of the most prominent members of the Council for National Policy (CNP) . This is a secret organization described by the New York Times as "a little-known club of a few hundred of the country's most influential conservatives" who meet three times a year behind closed doors at undisclosed locations for a confidential conference. Weyrich and other CNP members actively collaborated with Plinio de Oliveira's Tradition, Family and Property (TFP ). On the cover of the American edition of de Oliveira's 1993 book Nobility and Analogous Traditional Elites in the Allocations of Pius XII appear the overwhelmingly positive reviews of two members of the Council for National Policy. One is by Weyrich himself, the other by Morton C. Blackwell . The Citizens Commission for Human Rights (CCHR ), a well-known Scientology front organisation, funded Paul Weyrich's American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), according to a letter from Carol Steinke, a CCHR board member. A branch of Paul Weyrich's American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) also honored the wife of Unification Church leader Sun Myung Moon, Hak Ja Han Moon. The award was presented by Robin Brunelli, president of the National Foundation for Women Legislators and wife of Sam Brunelli, ALEC director and long-time CNP member. In short, same old rounds. More information on the extensive connections between the Council for National Policy (CNP) and the Unification Church of the Reverend Sun Myung Moon was discussed at length in an AFN radio interview by Kelleigh Nelson with Chey Simonton. In 1995, the Citizens Commission for Human Rights (CCHR) proposed that parents sign a pledge to abolish psychology in public schools. This demand was strongly supported by CNP affiliates such as the Family Research Council , Eagle Forum , Concerned Women , etc. Ultimately, we now find ourselves contemplating this scenario: The front in 'defense of religious freedom' consists of a jumble of units that is difficult to disentangle. They can be divided into - governmental entities (such as the three of the U.S. government ); - non-governmental interest groups active in international bodies such as the OSCE and the Council of Europe (such as Human Rights Without Frontiers - HRWF , the European Federation for Freedom of Belief - FOB and the Coordination des associations et des particuliers pour la liberté de conscience - CAP LC ). We can call them "lobbyist" associations; - "Christianist" groups oriented toward political and economic conservatism (Atlas Institute , Amway , Acton , etc.); and - a study center ( CESNUR ) - a magazine ( Bitter Winter ); and - various cults (most notably Scientology ). The mutual contacts between these institutions are so close that there are hardly more than two intermediate nodes between one node of the network and another. Often there is even complete overlap. For example, let us look at the activist organizations against the anti-cult movement. Among the founding associations of FOB are various controversial cults - for example, Soteria International , which is linked to MISA Yoga of the controversial sex guru Gregorian Bivolaru (wanted by Europol) - but most importantly, among its leading figures is a high-ranking Scientology representative . This is also true for CAP LC . Members of CAP LC are in turn also members of FOB . On the scientific committee of FOB sits the wife of the director of CESNUR , a study center that should not play an "activist" role in this script. Also on the advisory board of FOB is a leader of Italian traditionalist Catholicism, Marco Respinti . He is a member of Alleanza Cattolica , the organization where Massimo Introvigne was vicar regent. Respinti is also editor-in-chief of Bitter Winter , the magazinel of CESNUR, as well as the Journal of CESNUR . He is also a senior fellow at the Russell Kirk Center , an organization dedicated to promoting traditionalist conservatism . We are still in that cultural realm favored by so many government officials and members of 'Christianist' associations. FOB publishes Bitter Winter's articles and the U.S. State Department freely admits in its 2021 report on religious freedom that much of the information about persecution in China comes from Turin magazine. I repeat: Not a government advisory committee like USCIRF, but even the Department, whose documents represent the official position of the United States, produces a public report with information about China which should guide U.S. policy with information provided by a magazine published by a nonprofit organization in Turin. Its editor rightly boasts about it, writing Readers of Bitter Winter will forgive us if we mention that, in the section o n China, Bitter Winter remains, as it was in the report of last year , the single most quoted source. We were quoted 74 times in 2020. The quotes became 85 in 2021. Canis canem non est Now, we have made it clear that 1. the pro-market "Christianist" associations ( Atlas Institute , Amway , Acton Institute , Federalist Society , etc.), the state commissions for religious freedom and the U.S. State Department can euphemistically be described as very close (see above and also the third part of this report). Suffice it to say that Sam Brownback , former governor of Kansas and U.S. ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom (elected by USCIRF ), chair of the 2022 International Freedom Summit , is close to the Amway world and heads the office that publishes the State Department's annual report on international religious freedom (the one that cites Bitter Winter , CESNUR magazine, as its source). 2. the links between Scientology and certain sectors of the U.S. government are more than a guess and there is more than one proof of it (see the second part and also this one); 3. Scientology and other groups are linked to various lobbyist organizations ( FOB , HRWF , CAP LC , see second , fourth and fifth parts); 4. religious freedom has always been used as a geopolitical tool in a soft power perspective (see part five ). Everyone can draw his own conclusions. Jeffrey M. Bale of the Middlebury Institute of International Studies, arguably the best-known international expert on political and religious extremism, terrorism, unconventional warfare, and covert political operations, doesn't hesitate to write in the second volume of The Darkest Side of Politics that unconventional warfare involves organizations, pursuing "hidden religious or political agendas wich, in the name of religious and other democratic freedoms, are in reality intended to shield extremist, totalitarian, anti-democratic groups from scrutiny, criticism, and potential government crackdowns, and more generally to resisting or even roll back against <<secular humanism>>, liberalism, and modernism in the West. " The expert adds that perhaps the most prominent case of these organizations is CeSNUR . Instead of defending religious freedom with paradoxical "liberal" arguments (since its director is a "right-wing Catholic activist"), the "sub rosa" agenda of this center is to fight against secularism, perhaps at the behest of Vatican circles. He writes this in a seminal text on "state terrorism, weapons of mass destruction, religious extremism, and organized crime." In truth, it was Introvigne himself who noted in a small volume in 1993 that " activists of Alleanza Cattolica, together with others, founded and still animate CESNUR [...] as an " apologetic response that never fails to go back to the broader framework of the dramatic struggle between evangelization and anti-evangelization, that's, in the language of the counter-revolutionary Catholic school, of which Alleanza Cattolica is particularly inspired, between revolution and counter-revolution." Through what we've called "heterogeneity of purpose," the goals of these organizations, those of groups like Scientology, those of U.S. government agencies, and those of neocons, converge even as they arise out of different needs. As an example, it is not necessary to imagine that the CeSNUR is a creation of the intelligence services; nevertheless, the defence of all cults with which this study centre is concerned is indeed guided by the very simple observation that ' canis canem non est ' (dog does not eat dog) - ie, that preventing the struggle against other 'non-mainstream' groups also enables the protection of one's own side's anti-mainstream claims - but this prejudiced defence of other spiritual 'identities' is perfectly functional to the US soft power programme of using religious freedom as a geopolitical tool. Hence the anomalous coalition referred to here. An extraordinary example of how different the motivations of radical Christians for promoting religious freedom can be is provided by Gary North , founder of the Institute for Christian Economy ICE) , another "libertarian" think thank. North said: We must use the doctrine of religious liberty to gain independence for Christian schools until we train up a generation of people who know that there is no religious neutrality, no neutral law, no neutral education, and no neutral civil government. Then they will get busy in constructing a Bible-based social, political and religious order which finally denies the religious liberty of the enemies of God. ( here ) Adam C. English suggests that this quote implies that " religious liberty is a useful tool to Christians in the present, yet is ultimately to be denied to anyone who is not Christian once the Christians are in power ". ( here ) English argues that although this may seem inconsistent (advocating religious liberty but denying the reality of the notion), North and his fellow reconstructionists understand "liberty" in a theological sense. According to the reconstructionists, "anyone outside of the Christian faith is in bondage," and so "government by rigorous theonomy is not oppressive but liberating".In other words, there are many converging paths that lead fundamentalist, even theocratic, Christians to take the side of religious freedom. Everyone has good reason to participate in the great work of influence in favour of 'religious freedom'. Even at the cost of an alliance with the devil. In La Mafia des Sectes , Bruno Foucherau speaks of the funding of the Moon Church by CIA and of training courses for gurus run by the same agency. In short, the relations between the U.S. intelligence agencies and the "cults" have been repeatedly pointed out. Going a step further, we can say that the preservation of religious pluralism allows some states to use the lack of respect for religious freedom to put other countries under international pressure. This can also mean funding certain groups, and not just for the purpose of social polarization and subversion. For example, creating a religious movement out of thin air in a country that cannot be influenced in any other way can guarantee the retroactive efforts of that government to suppress it, exposing the totalitarian nature of that country. For their part, the cults associated with the government would benefit. For example, there is evidence of economic ties between the U.S. government and the Chinese Falun Gong movement (see Part Five ). But there is a problem. What happens in a closed and undemocratic country, especially if it does not flatter the government, can be difficult to leak abroad. The fact is that the spread of such news is critical to international influence . Therefore, an international megaphone is needed to spread these facts. In the case of Falun Gong, much of this work of spreading the wrongdoings of the Chinese Communist Party is done by the cult newspaper, The Epoch Times . As for the Church of Almighty God , its persecution in the West is known through the multilingual newspaper Bitter Winter , which not surprisingly is the preferred source of USCIRF and the U.S. State Department on issues concerning China (see above). After a 'synoptic' reading of Falun Gong and the Church of the Almighty God, Bitter Winter appears to be a premium version of The Epoch Times. Mentioning these points has led to the Chinese press defending me, unsolicited, against attacks from the world of 'cult apologists'. This earned me the infamous charge of collaborating in murder, torture and organ harvesting. It's my dance and I dance it. Post Scriptum Does this mean that cult apologists, as individuals and as associations, are funded by state institutions in a logic of soft power? Given our digression, it is plausible that this is the case for many cults, but as far as apologists are concerned, the matter may prove more complex. The present investigation, which focuses not so much on the origin of apologists' funds as on their role on the geopolitical chessboard, does not exhaust our curiosity about the world of apologists, especially those who claim to be representatives of the academia. Indeed, disturbing money flows are already emerging between this world and the cults themselves . This will be the subject of an upcoming investigation that can only irreparably destroy the credibility of these figures.
Notes on the geopolitics of cults. Part 6: Goodfellas
Luigi Corvaglia Prologue Take a good look at this photo. It was taken at the OSCE meeting in Warsaw. This is a table where I sit every year. In the first row, from the left, the Scientology delegate, next to him Massimo Introvigne , the director of CESNUR and Bitter Winter , then Willy Fautrè of Human Rights Without Frontiers and finally Alessandro Amicarelli of the European Federation for Freedom of Belief (FOB) . In the second row, behind the representative of Scientology, the delegate of the Coordination des Associations et des Particuliers pour la Liberté de Conscience (CAP LC) . This French association for the defense of "religious freedom" was founded in 2002 by Thierry Bécourt , a former member of the Omnium des Libertés association. Becourt was influenced by the esotericism of Alice Bailey and was the founder of the Institut de Psychanimie , dedicated to the dissemination of theosophy . Omnium del Libertès, which gave rise to the offshoot CAP LC, was founded in 1996 by singer-songwriter Joël Labruyère, a Scientology follower. CAP LC is currently run by Thierry Valle , a nice man with whom I often chat in the bar of the Sofitel Hotel in Warsaw. He makes fun of me and I make fun of him. In 2015, French "ethical hackers" active against Scientology examined photos of a well-known follower of the church, Françoise Morel, taken outside a headquarters of the Citizens' Commission for Human Rights (CCHR) , one of Scientology's organizations. They wondered who was the man they always saw next to her. The photos are the following. Yes, it was Thierry Valle. The authors of the article in which the photo is quoted assume that Valle is a member of the OSA (Office for Special Affairs) , Scientology's intelligence service. In fact, Valle's name appears on the staff list of the Guaranty Building , Scientology's Beaux Arts building in Hollywood, as early as 1994. Let us return to the initial photo and recap the formation. We have Scientology , CESNUR-Bitter Winter , then HRWF , FOB and finally CAP LC . All entities that are somehow connected. The first thing the viewer notices is that, except for the Scientology representative who did not notice, they are all smiling into the same camera, even the CAP LC representative in the second row. They are a combo. A single group of activists conducting a coordinated lobbying effort with international bodies to oppose actions and policies that might impede a particular vision of defending 'religious freedom'. A vision that is indeed peculiar, as we have seen in examining the background of the protagonists. Religion and intelligence a) Catholic Intelligence Agency The CIA has used religion as an instrument of espionage since before it existed. In fact, Allen Dalles, who headed the agency in its early years, had already used religious groups as cover for intelligence operations, even when he was in charge of the Office for Strategic Services (OSS), the precursor to CIA. In the beginning, it was Catholicism. In his book Errand into the Wilderness of Mirrors , Michael Graziano recalls the Office of Strategic Services in World War II and explains how Catholicism "became the model through which the intelligence community could understand and manipulate other world religions ." Under the guise of the Church's profound persuasive power, the OSS mobilized European populations against their Nazi (and later Soviet) occupiers. Through the Belgian priest Felix Morlion, the OSS also collaborated with the Catholic international press in what became known as " Operation Pilgrim's Progress. " Graziano writes that "American analysts often assumed that Catholic interests-and especially those of the Vatican-were perfectly aligned with U.S. goals." When the agency encountered other world religions during the Cold War - Shintoism in Japan, Buddhism in Southeast Asia, and especially Islam in Iran - it took it for granted that " the United States and world religions [were] natural allies " in the fight against atheistic communism. At the end of the war, former OSS agents joined the newly formed Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), bringing with them the experience and networks needed to use the religious instrument in clandestine activities. CIA Officials such as Allen Dulles, Kermit Roosevelt, Miles Copeland, William Eddy, and James Jesus Angleton did not hesitate to use religion as a transactional tool. American clergy, missionaries, and evangelical Billy Graham secretly worked with the CIA. In 1975, a U.S. Senate report revealed the use of various American priests and missionaries for intelligence gathering in various countries. There is much evidence of U.S. funding of churches, both Christian and non-Christian. For example, the CIA funded churches in Kerala , India, and this interference in Indian politics came to light in 1978 when former Ambassador to India Daniel Patrick Moynihan published the information in his book A Dangerous Place. The American churches not only interfered in Kerala, but also provided substantial support to the Nagaland terrorists. These terrorists received blatant help from the American establishment in the form of so-called human rights reports and public statements of support from high-profile politicians like Jimmy Carter. We are beginning to see how human rights reports are a weapon used at will for or against groups and institutions depending on whether they favor or hinder U.S. government interests (remember the 2020 USCIRF report ?). The use of the Mormons also seems to have been remarkable, as Alain Gillette points out in his book 'Les mormons. De la théocratie a Internet'. Indeed, the Mormons not only share moral goals with certain sectors of the US government, but also have missions in various countries around the world and speak the language of each of these countries correctly. In the early 1980s, the Nicaraguan government accused Mormons, Seventh-day Adventists and Jehovah's Witnesses of being involved in a CIA plot to overthrow the Sandinista government . Evidence shows that many Mormons in Finland have been associated with the CIA since the 1950s . In 1978, two journalists, Jorraa Lindfors and Jukka Rislakki, wrote in a book about the alleged CIA links to the Mormon Church. According to the authors, "many of the young missionaries in Finland had received training as military officers, and the head of Mormon international missionary work, Apostle Neal A. Maxwell, was a former CIA agent'. That the world's religions are natural allies of the US also seems to be believed by a number of "libertarian" organisations and think tanks coordinated by the Atlas Network . As we will see in more detail in the next part , all of these non-governmental organisations ( Acton Institute , Federalist Society , etc.) work as "agents of influence" promoting neoliberal policies that combine economic and religious freedom in one concept and act as a silent extension of US foreign policy. The think tanks associated with Atlas are funded by the State Department and the National Endowment for Democracy , a key arm of US soft power. The links between these think tanks and the cult's apologists are close, as we will see. Soft power is exercised in different ways and for different purposes. In the specific area of promoting religion, one of the motives for the global application of US religious policy is cited by Diane L. Knippers, who was director of the Institute on Religion and Democracy (IRD) . Knippers said: Spirituality is a guarantor of civilisation because spirituality and faith create honest people. Without honesty there is no trade, and without trade there is no civilisation. In short, we are talking about religion as an instrument of market globalisation. But of course it is not only that. b) la bancada evangelica The primacy of Catholicism, so great that the CIA was nicknamed the Catholic Intelligence Agency , has declined over time. In Latin America, the Catholic continent par excellence, the Church of Rome is increasingly losing ground to the various evangelical denominations. One of the reasons is that the position of the more conservative evangelicals was directly supported throughout the Cold War by the United States , which saw the religious group as a useful bulwark against communism in Latin America, an area where "liberation theology" had given Catholicism a dangerous taint. The Rockefeller Report of 1969 and the Santa Fe document of 1980, according to some authors (e.g. Bruno Focherau and Florence Lacroix), illustrate the use of religion by the North American services to defend American interests in South America. The Rockefeller Report states that the US must strive to win the battle for conscience hegemony by exposing Latin America to the influence of the American way of life ' through the control of the traditional socialising apparatuses of civil society: the Family, the School and the Church' . The Santa Fe document , prepared for the Council for Inter-American Security and presented to the Republican Platform Committee in 1980 by a team of ultra-conservative advisors, states that "US foreign policy must begin by countering (not reacting to) liberation theology as used in Latin America by liberation theology clergy". The document refers to the work already done in this direction: The experience gained in Vietnam through planned population control work was exported by many A.I.D. agents and other U.S. services to Latin America and especially to Guatemala. Some cults were created by psychological warfare specialists charged with the control of political space and the hegemony of consciences . (emphasis mine) Clearer than that! Jesus Garzia Ruiz, in a text entitled 'La notion relative aux sectes en Amérique latine," writes that in Latin America 'all cults are the work of the United States and are financed from abroad'." A note from the Ministry of the Interior of Mexico states that The cults carry out the most subtle part of the process of domination and North Americanization of underdeveloped societies, using religious preaching, which is part of the ideological struggle, within civil society. In 1981, the Institute for Religion and Democracy (IRD) , a non-denominational organisation, was founded to gain support for this policy. It was funded by right-wing institutions, including the Smith Richardson and the Mellon Scaife Family Foundation, both of which acted as financial conduits for the CIA. The IRD launched a propaganda campaign against church activists who were in the forefront of fighting US aid to the government of El Salvador and other repressive regimes in Latin America. The project was successful. Today, the influence of evangelicals on the society of these countries is enormous because of their voter potential. The spread of evangelical churches in Latin America, especially the neo-Pentecostal ones, which have enormous resources that make them more "competitive" than the Catholic Church, has contributed to the rise of "right-wing" personalities and political forces close to the interests of the economic and financial powers, especially those of the United States. Behind these phenomena there seems to be a very precise strategy to replace "left-wing Catholic" Christians (because they care about social issues) with "right-wing evangelical" Christians (who care a lot about moral issues but little about social ones). The Church of the Word in Guatemala, as well as the Universal Divine Church in Argentina, are directly linked to North American structures such as the 700 Club , an authentic seminary for cult leaders run by CIA , the TPL Television Network (founded by the notorious Pat Robertson in Virginia), the Billy Graham Evangelist Association or World Vision International . All of these structures are under the control of the American radical right and are openly funded by CIA. c) Instrumentum regni All of this suggests to us that religion can be a useful tool for some governments for at least three purposes. 1. The first, attested and recognized, is that of espionage and disinformation . During the early years of the Cold War, James Angleton organized an elaborate spy network that enabled the CIA to obtain intelligence reports sent to the Vatican by papal nuncios stationed behind the Iron Curtain and in other “denied” areas. This was, at the time, one of the few means available to the CIA of penetrating the Eastern Bloc. It need not be that the majority churches and religions are used. If you think about it, minority religions- especially if they have their own intelligence structures, such as Scientology - are perfect for this purpose, especially in countries where majority religions are difficult to infiltrate or are closely tied to governments. This is the case in Russia, where, in the chaos that followed the collapse of USSR, all sorts of spiritual and alternative groups flourished, largely funded by the U.S., but also in China, the land of the inexplicably wealthy Falun Gong and the Church of Almighty God (the former's relations with the U.S. government or parts of it were reported in part five ). When Congress cut off funds to the Reagan administration in 1985 to support the Nicaraguan ' Contras' terrorists against the Sandinista regime, Reverend Moon's Unification Church participated in supplying the guerrillas with food and money (see second episode). Neo-templarism, the extreme right and secret diplomacy When 48 followers of the knightly Order of the Solar Temple were found dead in the villages of Cheiry and Salvan in Switzerland in October 1994, a self-styled 'adviser on religious matters' of the Central Office of Defence (Swiss Military Department) collaborated with the investigators by questioning the witnesses alone in defiance of all procedural rules. He was Jean-François Mayer , a former activist of the extreme right in Lyon, former distribution manager of the denialist newspaper Défense de l'Occident , member of the Nouvel Ordre Social (a national-revolutionary movement based in Geneva), contributor to the esoteric journal Politica Hermetica and Panorama des idees actuelles , a journal of GRECE , the neo-pagan Groupement de recherche et d'études pour la civilisation européenne , but, more interestingly, a leading member of CESNUR . In her book Ordre du Temple Solaire, en quête de vérité , Rosemarie Jaton reports the content of an interview with J.F. Mayer in which he admits to having been in contact with Luc Jouret , one of the two leaders of the Order el Temple Solaire. Luc Jouret was a former Belgian far-right military officer associated with Gladio , the Italian branch of the secret anti-communist organisation known as Stay Behind from NATO. After the discovery of the bodies of 16 other followers of the Temple of the Sun in December 1995 in Vercors, Jean-François Mayer was one of the 300 privileged people who received a file from the cult containing the posthumous writings of the victims. Bruno Fouchereau writes in La mafia des sectes that the Belgian 'Nazi-Maoist' group to which Jouret belonged in the 1970s was only the façade of an anti-communist organisation, SDRA-8 , run by the NATO services in the context of the Cold War. While this does not explain the mystery of the alleged 'mass suicides' of the Solar Temple, on which many French journalists have focused (see the interesting analysis by Philip Coppens ), it does point to a link between intelligence services, sects and the CESNUR . The case of the Order of the Temple allows us to address at a glance a subject that deserves further study, namely the relations between the extreme political right, intelligence and the pseudo-chivalric organisations . The latter are associations that, usually without any title or authority, claim to derive in some way directly from religious orders of chivalry from the time of the Crusades, especially the Knights Templar. Today there are thousands of official and unofficial chivalric associations. Of the official ones, the Knights of Malta are the best known. Martin A. Lee writes that the American branch of the Order is one of the main channels of communication between the CIA and the Vatican. In fact, the Order of Malta is able to transfer money to and from countries that neither the CIA nor the Vatican have access to. The Order is full of military and intelligence agents. The head of the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), the predecessor of CIA, William 'Wild Bill' Donovan, was a member of the Order of Malta, as was James Jesus Angleton, the head of counterintelligence for CIA. Among others, William Casey, director of CIA during the Reagan administration, who is considered the main organiser of the Gladio network in Italy, i.e., that network which included members of the Order of the Temple belonged and which maintained close ties with the Italian P2 Masonic Lodge, was also a Knight of Malta. Now, if this is the essence of an official organisation like the Knights of Malta, the contours of the countless unofficial orders seem even more opaque. In his work L'Occultisme dans la politique (1994), Gèrard de Sède notes that in the 1950s an extremely important figure in French intelligence, Constantin Menlik, was a member of the original Sovereign Order of the Temple of the Sun (SOTS), the precursor of the Order of the Temple (OTS) that we have been discussing. In 1960, the news leaked out and France Observatoire wrote on March 17: The aim of the group, which includes Constantin Melnik, a member of the Debré government, and the 'Gioranlist" Pierre Jolie, is to carry out anti-Communist activities. It controls a number of associations from afar and is in contact above all with the organisation of George Sauyers, with the Catholic fundamentalist Franco friends. The 'Templars' have contacts in Germany and Spain. Melnik, for his part, attributes this news to a smear campaign organised by the KGB. (quoted in Enquête sur les extrémistes de l'occulte : de la loge P2 à l'ordre du temple solaire by Renaud Marhic, pages 201-202) Note that George Sauyers was part of the Army's psychological warfare division. Also associated with the Order of the Temple was a figure "mythical" in his own way, Yves Guérin-Sérac , the grey eminence of black terrorism in Europe, one of the masterminds of the strategy of tension in Italy, and founder of Aginter Presse , the fake Portuguese press agency that functioned as the organisational centre of the subversion of democracy on a planetary scale. Italian journalist Andrea Sceresini reveals that Aginter Presse was in contact with American intelligence services through the John Birch Society , one of the most influential associations of the American economic-political right. Guérin-Sérac spent decades in hiding, from the 1970s until his death at age 95 in 2022 in a French retirement home. Nevertheless, on two occasions he made himself publicly known, using his real name, Yves Marie Guillou. The first time was at a meeting of the Women's Federation for World Peace , an offshoot of Reverend Moon's Unification Church , and the second time in 2006 when he was a speaker at the ecumenical meeting of New Age spirituality ' Foro Espiritual ' in Spain. Strange for a fervent traditional catholic... A minimal example of misinformation A tiny example of how disinformation useful to a particular administration gets through controversial cults is provided by a recent discovery of mine. Newspapers and TV news around the world have spoken about the alleged undercover overseas police stations that China has opened in various countries such as Italy and Canada (for example, here ). The report from which the media sourced the information came from a NGO called Safeguard Defenders , a human rights organisation that monitors disappearances in China and was founded by activist Peter Dahlin. It did not take much effort to find out what was openly available on the net, namely that Peter Dahlin is linked to The Epoch Times , the Falun Gong newspaper. Obviously, I ignore whether the report says things that are true or false, but the source opens doubts about it. What is certain is that this fact shows how cults also operate through NGOs that produce wide political effects. 2. The second use of religions as instrumentum regni lies in their ability to dilute the religious identity of certain populations, creating new forms of mutual recognition (in-groups) that become maneuverable constituencies when they are not useful for processes of social polarization that can lead to revolts or outright revolutions. We have seen the first case in Latin America with the promotion of the Pentecostal movement, based on the prosperity gospel , which permeates a large part of the religious right in the United States. The core of this 'theology' is the conviction that God wants his believers to live prosperous lives, i.e. to be financially rich. This kind of Christianity places the believer's well-being at the centre of prayer and makes his Creator the one who realises his thoughts and desires, as if wealth and prosperity were the true sign of divine preference that can be magically 'conquered' through faith. This gospel is spread by a massive presence in the major media and is supported by its strong influence on political life. 3. There is, however, a third function of the comprehensive defense of minority cults by an environment that, as we have seen, is supposed to be hostile to them. Indian journalist Arvind Kumar sums it up very well when he notes that the intertwining of academia, CIA, and religion manifested itself in the 1990s during the process that led to the passage of the International Religious Freedom Act and then to the establishment of the Office for International Religious Freedom and the United States Commission for International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) . He also says that the vaunted "religious freedom" of these bodies is really "a euphemism for the propagation of Christianity using government resources" The problem is that he misses the central aspect of the matter, which is that the proclaimed defense of religious pluralism makes it possible to maintain pressure on some countries by denouncing their disregard for the right to religious freedom . Such denunciation, of course, does not apply to friendly countries that are equally illiberal and hostile to pluralism, such as Saudi Arabia, but it is an excellent tool to target countries that are less useful or competitors in the geopolitical scenario. That these are not mere assertions becomes clear in the seventh part of this report, when the finger is pointed at Scientology 's lobbying aimed precisely at "putting pressure on foreign countries" for not respecting "religious freedom." In light of all this, we can begin to see with different eyes the strange tangle of government commissions, religious fundamentalists, "religious freedom" associations, Scientology, and other controversial cults, all connected by at most one link. See you in the next part . first part second part third part fourth part fifth part