Global domination and religion as a weapon.
By Lucio Tancredi.
From Orion, VII, n.
9, September, 1998.
"Human rights" are something undeniable. Very few people indeed will raise their hands to say that they, as a matter of principle, favour torture, impoverishment of widows or massacring those who speak one language instead of another.
Things therefore appear to be quite simple. However, they are not. First of all, we live in a complicated and violent world, where there are many, often mutual abuses, and where some abuses at least are invented. Everybody accuses, but not everybody has the means to have himself heard by the public. In Western-style democracies, the "public" actually consists of voters/viewers, i.e. people who, among other things and for various reasons which we leave to the psychologists, are actually fascinated by dramatic and bloodthirsty tales: injustices have always been a necessary ingredient of any show. Abuses attract attention. Everybody justifies this interest by saying that he only wants to put an end to such abuses; but the real situation - as invented abuses in the cinema show - is certainly more complex, not to say more perverse.
In any case, presenting a carefully selected range of abuses makes it possible to address the aggressiveness of the viewers towards those who stand in the way of the power of those who complain about human rights violations. These enemies are turned into ordinary criminals. And crime calls for an executioner, who of course is also the person who tabled the issue in the first place. The victim of the arrogance of this stronger party is even denied his own condition: he is presented as if he were the aggressive party.
This is why "human rights" are not, generally speaking, an abstract ideological issue. There are splendid exceptions of very honest people, however human rights are in most cases used as a tool for power. A tool theoretically available to all, of course, because everybody, quite rightly, has something to complain about. "Everybody", however, in a free market society, means everybody who has political and media power; and such power in its turn comes from financial power. And, as we all know, the financial power of the planet is firmly in the hands of the United States.
A few decades ago, human rights still belonged to the "Left". In those days, people used to speak about life in the factories, or about Chile, Vietnam, and Argentina, countries where American domination was exerted to its full extent; at the same time, human rights advocates were generally silent about other abuses, such as those committed in Communist countries. Today things have changed considerably. Causes are nearly always decided in the US. The Left, which is almost incapable any more of thinking in historical, economical or social terms, has taken human rights as virtually its only raison d'etre, so this outcome was almost inevitable. The Left may criticise the US attack on Iraq, but it cannot defend such an "enemy of human rights" as Saddam Hussein, so it ends up by being marginalised or actually subordinated, as we can see in the case of Serbia or of so-called "Islamic fundamentalism".
"Right" means everything and nothing. So when we use this term, we have to make it clear what we are talking about. In this case, we refer to a model which is basically American but has spread around the world. A combination of ideology and interests which promotes the capitalist revolution around the world, and which is therefore profoundly "subversive." At the same time, it disguises itself by speaking of "family values" or "religion", generally "Judeo-Christian", but also open to the typically mercantile suggestions of "human potential", and of various entrepreneurial cults. The religious fanaticism of the grass-roots is balanced by skilled ecumenical manoeuvres at the top.
For over a quarter of a century, a rich and aggressive group of individuals inside the empty container of the US Republican Party has been working on a project for a vast Right, based on total economic free-market ideology, unconditional support for Israel and religious mobilisation of the masses. We do not like to talk of conspiracies, but in this case we continually find the same names, although hidden behind a forest of initials, institutions and bodies: Jerrty Falwell, Paul Weyrich, Viguerie, the "reverend" Moon, Tim and Beverly LaHaye, Pat Robertson, are probably the best known.
A very useful document can be found on
Internet, entitled Washington Inc. :Creating The Machinery For Downsizing
Labor Costs. It clearly explains their strategy:
This strategy has been adopted by the allies of the US Right in other countries as well. We can take a very provincial example, compared to the large US political and cultural enterprises: Alleanza Cattolica, the self-styled "sister-group", a rather poor one, of the Brazilian landowners' organisation, Tradition, Family and Property. In recent years, perhaps under pressure from abroad, Italy has been submitted to a sudden and unnatural "bipolarisation", i.e. the introduction of a two-party, winner-takes-all voting system. There was already a Left, but they had to invent a Right, in only a few months' time, to oppose it. Alleanza Cattolica played a decisive role in the creation of the leadership of this Right, since it had worked for years on bringing up its own leaders in a framework which was Catholic but also based on the free market ideology, and in touch (through TFP) with the US Right.
The website of the "Right in Italy" (http://www.geocities.com/CapitolHill/2758/destra.html), heavily laden with Italian flags and symbols of Berlusconi's Forza Italia party, calls Alleanza Cattolica the "Catholic association which has most consistently taken the side of the Polo per le libertà [the Right coalition]". Alleanza Cattolica has provided the spokesman - Alfredo Mantovano - for Alleanza Nazionale and the parliamentary group leader - Vietti - for the CCD (the party of which Introvigne too is a leading member), whereas the cultural page of Il Secolo d'Italia, the party publication of Alleanza Cattolica, is run by another Alleanza militant Marco Respinti.
The basic project of Alleanza Cattolica is not Catholic traditionalism (something with which one may disagree, but which is still part of our national tradition), but the creation of a "true" Right, an imitation of the one of the USA. A Right based on free market, "Judeo-Christian" values and the "defence of the West."
Money and Pseudo-spiritual multinationals
Alleanza Cattolica met with success
also thanks to the an extraordinary bluff, the establishment of CESNUR,
a "Centre for Studies on New Religions", devoted to research on what many
call "cults", but with surprisingly apologetic aims. The founder was the
patent lawyer and self-styled sociologist, Massimo Introvigne, one of the
top leaders of "Alleanza" and once a particularly aggressive opponent of
any suspected heresy. Some still remember his definition of the French
Nouvelle Droite as " A stand-by ruling class for the Revolution"
(Massimo Introvigne, "GRECE e Nouvelle Ecole", in Cristianità¸
n. 32, Dec. 1977). French 'neo-paganism' was:
In other words, whatever did not fall under the wide wings of the Vatican was "revolutionary" in those days. It is therefore surprising, to say the least, to find Introvigne suddenly become ecumenical, wide open to quite angrily anti-Christian organisations. This kind of ecumenism can be understood only within the framework of the mentality of the US Right - "religion" is always good, a notion which René Guénon long ago denounced in his studies on neo-spiritualism and the Protestant mentality. Although we are not followers of CESNUR is playing a Jesuitically subtle game: the organisation tries to approach small but authentic groups, often close to our own milieu, in order to set up a wide front for the defence of the "multinationals of the imaginary."
Since it deals with a little-known field, CESNUR was quickly able to present itself as an authority, establishing relations with the small world of "sociologists of religion", a category of people, usually without a degree in sociology, who have been largely living for years on the funds they obtain from the rich US cult multinationals for doing 'studies' which save the image of such cults, in court or with the media.
The sociologist Benjamin Zablocki
("The Blacklisting of a concept: The strange history of the brainwashing
conjecture in the sociology of religion", Nova Religio, The Journal
of Alternative and Emergent Religions. October, 1997) denounced
this typically American symbiosis between researchers and their financing
We were recently treated to a fascinating demonstration of the way in which small and large groups work together on projects of global domination.
On July 30th, 1998, Massimo Introvigne - director of CESNUR, a militant of Alleanza Cattolica since his earliest youth and one of the five "consultori" of the organisation - was invited to speak as a witness in Washington before the International Relations Committee of the US Congress, in a joint session with the Commission for Security and Co-operation in Europe. The latter, typically,is a body which is supposed to deal with Europe but works out of the USA. The agenda of the meeting clearly set down where good and evil lie: the discussion was supposed to revolve around "continuing religious intolerance in Europe." One of the speakers was a lawyer of Scientology, ma Introvigne was definitely the guest of honour.
The meeting dealt with "religious intolerance" in certain countries; France, Germany, Belgium, Austria, Greece, Uzbekistan, Russia, Macedonia, Romania, the Ukraine, Turkey and Belarus were called by name and accused of imposing restrictions which were called impermissible and alarming even before the meeting began. When Rambo's fellow countrymen start using words like this, there is reason for worry. A clear example of "intolerance" came from Spain, where the Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN), certainly the most kitsch example of US right-wing televangelism (its main offices boast an enormous, pseudo-baroque staircase with statues of angels killing dragons) complained that it had spent over one million dollars to set up its propaganda machine, only to have its broadcasting permit revoked simply because the network had no licence. TBN asked the US government to take steps, and a representative of the network was among those invited to the Washington meeting.
The Friend of the Americans calls for "monitoring critics"
The meeting was followed by a series of meeting behind closed doors between Introvigne and American officers responsible for what they call "security", though the rest of the world might well call it something else. On his Internet site, the Italian speaker claims he gave advice on how to "monitor the anti-cult movement", both "nationally and internationally", an exciting new task for the US power system.
It was not by chance that Introvigne, during his speech, spoke in defence of two multinationals especially dear to global power, the Unification Church of Sun Myung Moon, self-proclaimed Messiah, GOP-funder and long term friend of Reagan and of the main televangelists; and the Church of Scientology.
If these multinationals have met with problems in various parts of the world, the fault cannot be theirs. This time, the blame is put, not on the usual "Islamic fundamentalists", but on European "Socialist politicians" who are supposed to be leading an active "religious persecution."
After having said that it is "not the task of scholars to give advice", Introvigne gave his advice to the fellow countrymen of Madeleine Albright (whose spokesman had in the past threatened the Swedish government for having made some secret texts of Scientology public). According to Introvigne, it is not only the traditional areas of US interference in the Third World which are "at risk", but also "France, Belgium, Germany and Greece". Public funds should be withdrawn from bodies dealing with cults (Introvigne made no mention of CESNUR, funded by the Right-wing Piedmont Regional government); at the most, individual cult members who commit crimes can be prosecuted, without touching their instigators.
As we already said, human rights abuses do exist. The problem is, which we choose and what is their relation to the wider context. This is especially true in Germany, which has extraordinarily arbitrary legislation against nationalists, communists and other "extremists." The theoretical purpose of these laws is to repress supposed "totalitarian movements" (and these laws have been used in the past against Communists as well, outlawed in the democratic Bonn republic just as they were in Chile). Now, and for the first time, the Germans find themselves facing a true totalitarian movement, extremely rich, very well organised, with a world-wide structure, which infiltrates both the economy and politics, and which obeys order coming from abroad. Germany has not actually taken any steps against this movement, but it has criticised it officially and it has insisted on not recognising it as a "religion", a definition which would put it beyond the reach of any form of control.
"Hatred" and the "Darkest Days"
To speak of "religious intolerance" in the only European country which has known peaceful co-operation of Catholics and Protestants for over three centuries is of course ridiculous. But even more ridiculous was the "public statement" issued by CESNUR on August 15th, 1996. This organisation described its own congress as a "a successful celebration of religious scholarship, as well as of tolerance and freedom," then went on to condemn the threat made by the young German Christian Democrats to boycott a film starring the scientologist Tom Cruise, labelling this as a "revelatory of an extremely dangerous bigotry identifying new religions as scapegoats for all sorts of social evils". This was even referred to as "reminiscent of the darkest ages in recent European history". The Cesnurians completed their appeal, calling on governments to "to take immediate action to esnure that this campaign of hate is stopped without delay". Orion's readers are well aware of the rhetoric of "darkest days" and "hate", which has become a current issue due to the practice of Scientology of laying charges against people on the basis of the infamous Mancino Law: a recent victim was a businessman in the Veneto area, guilty of having accused the US multinational of having left his wife die without suitable medical care. Whatever the truth of his accusation, the following suit shows the frighteningly arbitrary nature of this law: we can recall here that it punishes "anybody" who "in any way" expresses "ideas" of "hate" or "discrimination", with three years in gaol, the withdrawal of the rights as a citizen and in certain case even the seizure of the person's home and forced labour.
In other parts of the world, the issue is often cultural: changing the religion of a people also means changing their identity. This is why the Chiapas zapatistas have entered into a little-known conflict with local evangelicals, and why many Israelis insist on the need to control the influx of missionaries; why Greeks look with deep distrust at anybody who attacks the Orthodox church; why the Chinese, who well remember the political role played by missionaries in the past, look askance at the arrival of foreign proselytisers.
This does not mean we should take on any repressive cause, even when self-defence is involved. The social reaction to the cult invasion is made up of very mixed elements. As usual, it is often the weakest who are hurt; we are thinking for example of the brutal injustice involved in the imprisonment of the Satanist Marco Dimitri in Italy, or of the mayor in Northern Italy who ordered obligatory psychiatric treatment for two evangelical preachers. However, we wish to emphasise the fact that in Europe, denying rights to cults is not an issue; what is involved is denying them the privileges unfortunately associated with the definition of "religion." The "persecution" of Scientology in Germany means that Scientology is subject to a cautious police surveillance, that it has to pay taxes and even wages to its own employees.
The American Friend at war with the world
If the Empire has decided to let its subject, Introvigne, speak, this is obviously because he had something useful to say. It is interesting to see who invited the Italian patent lawyer to pontificate on "religious persecution." The invitation came from the Republican congressman, Christopher H. Smith, who - together with Senator Alfonse D'Amato, manages the Congress "human rights" commission. Readers probably already know D'Amato because of the victory he won for the Jewish lobbies in their campaign against the Swiss banks.
Christopher H. Smith is certainly not a person who gets his salary without working. His website (http://www.house.gov/chrissmith/PRESS.htm) lists some of the causes he was involved in, only during the first half of 1998. He is leading a campaign against the Burmese government; for having Milosevic condemned for "war crimes" and for toughening sanctions against Yugoslavia; against China; against the former Communists in Eastern Europe; against Sudan; against any opening towards Vietnam; a series of measures to prohibit abortion; to censor Internet, of course on the pretext of fighting pornography; to defend products considered to be anti-ecological; to increase the police. He had a personal meeting with Binyamin Netanyahu; he organised a commemoration of Mother Teresa of Calcutta; he has threatened the Slovak government; he has got through a law for tripling the funds available to Radio Free Asia, a broadcasting station which has been spreading the values of the Empire for years throughout the Far East. In July 1997, he even promoted a law to oblige Japan to beg forgiveness officially for its aggression during the Second World War and for the atrocities that were committed.
One especially important event was the approval, in October 1998, of a law proposed by Smith, which obliges the Big Policeman to take active steps around the world against "religious persecution." Let us not fall into the linguistic trap by asking, "what's wrong about that - I am sure you are not favourable to religious persecution?" What is important is to understand the totally arbitrary nature of such a measure. On the one hand, "persecution" may simply mean (as in the case of Scientology in Germany) not granting an organisation the privileges associated with the status of religion. On the other hand, jurists and scholars agree that no certain definition of the word "religion" exists or can, perhaps, exist.
As always, the issue is not one of right and wrong as such; what matters much more is which rights and which wrongs are brought to the forefront. While demanding penance from Japan, Smith not only does not ask forgiveness for the US aggression against Vietnam - he even actively opposes any opening towards that unhappy country.
The same can be said of each of the causes promoted by Smith. The abuses in Sudan (whether real or imaginary does not matter) attract his attention just when this country has become an obstacle to the imperial domination over Africa, whereas abuses in Saudi Arabia or Israel do not interest him at all. Together with D'Amato, Smith in 1993 even went so far as to present a law, which fortunately was not approved, condemning Germany for its "persecution" of Scientology, whereas he seems to have taken no interest in the accusations, also involving human rights, made against this organisation (of course he never asked Germany to cancel its laws which mandate indefinite arrest for crimes of opinions). Out of all the violence recently committed in the Balkans, Smith, like the international media, has decided to consider only the violence committed by the Serbs, that is by those who shown themselves least willing to be globalised. These stances are based on two notions which are deeply rooted in American culture: the notion that the US is morally right, and that it has the right to apply its ideas, by force if necessary, in every corner of the world.
Mother Teresa of Calcutta and the struggle against abortion (a field where Smith has met with some success), on the other hand, are part of the project for creating a "Right-wing" imagination based on "Judeo-Christian" values, to use against the other fancies and sexual causes of the "Left". The childish but thrilling fist fights about abortion, about the rights of homosexuals and about language ("chairman" or "chairperson"?) are gradually taking the place of any reflection about who is dominating the world.
Ultimately, like Smith use the show of abuse and ethics as pretext to allow the United States to play the role of planetary policeman.
Alleanza Cattolica's roots lie in Latin
America, where pretended noblemen supply coffee for the breakfasts of the
USA; but it is certainly doing its best to fit into the worldwide network
of the US Right.