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Revolution and Counter-Revolution


Chapter VII: Obstacles to the Counter-Revolution


1. Pitfalls To Be Avoided Among Counter-Revolutionaries
The pitfalls to be avoided among counter-revolutionaries very often consist of certain bad habits of agents of the Counter-Revolution. The themes of counter-revolutionary meetings or publications should be carefully chosen. The Counter-Revolution should always be ideological in its approach, even when dealing with matters fraught with detail and incidentals. To go over questions of current or recent party politics may be useful, for example. But to overemphasize small personal questions, to make a struggle with local ideological adversaries the main objective of the counter-revolutionary action, to portray the Counter-Revolution as if it were a mere nostalgia (even though this nostalgia is, of course, legitimate) or a mere obligation of personal loyalty, however holy and just, is to depict the particular as if it were the general, the part as if it were the whole. It is to mutilate the cause one desires to serve.

2. Slogans of the Revolution
At other times, these obstacles consist of revolutionary slogans that are frequently regarded as dogma even in the best circles.

A. "The Counter-Revolution Is Out of Date"
The most prevalent and harmful of these slogans claims that the Counter-Revolution cannot flourish in our day because it is contrary to the spirit of the times. History, it is said, does not turn back.

If this peculiar principle were true the Catholic religion would not exist, for it cannot be denied that the Gospel was radically contrary to the milieu in which Our Lord Jesus Christ and the Apostles preached. Also, Germano-Romanic Catholic Spain would not have existed, for nothing is more like a resurrection, and hence in a certain way like a return to the past, than the full reconstitution of the Christian grandeur of Spain after the eight centuries from Covadonga to the fall of Granada. The Renaissance, so dear to revolutionaries, was itself, from various points of view at least, a return to a cultural and artistic naturalism that had been petrified for over a millennium.

History, then, contains comings and goings along the paths of good and the paths of evil.

Incidentally, whenever the Revolution considers something to be consistent with the spirit of the times, caution has to be exercised, for all too often it is rubbish from some pagan time that it wishes to restore. What is new, for example, about divorce, nudism, tyranny, or demagoguery, all of which were so widespread in the ancient world? And why is the advocate of divorce regarded as modem while the defender of indissoluble marriage is considered outdated? The Revolution´s concept of modern amounts to everything that gives free rein to pride and egalitarianism as well as to pleasure-seeking and liberalism.

B. "The Counter-Revolution Is Negativistic"
According to another slogan of the Revolution, the Counter-Revolution, by its very name, defines itself as something negative and therefore sterile. This is a mere play on words, for, based on the fact that the negation of a negation corresponds to an affirmation, the human spirit expresses many of its most positive concepts in a negative form: infallibility, independence, innocence, and others. Would it be negativism to fight for any of these values just because of their negative formulation? Did the First Vatican Council perform a negativistic work when it defined papal infallibility? Is the Immaculate Conception a negativistic prerogative of the Mother of God?

If insistence on negating, attacking, and continuously watching the adversary is termed "negativistic" in current speech, then perforce the Counter-Revolution, without being merely a negation, has in its essence something fundamentally and wholesomely negativistic. It is, as we have said, a movement directed against another movement, and it is unthinkable for one adversary in a fight not to have his eyes fixed on the other, maintaining an attitude of polemics, attack, and counterattack.

C. "The Counter-Revolutionary Is Argumentative"
A third catch phrase criticizes the intellectual works of counter-revolutionaries for their negativistic and polemical character, whereby they overemphasize the refutation of error instead of simply explaining the truth in a clear manner indifferent to the correction of error. These works are deemed counterproductive, for they irritate the adversary and drive him away. Save for possible excesses, this seemingly negativistic approach is profoundly justified. As previously stated, the doctrine of the Revolution was contained in the denials of Luther and the early revolutionaries, but it was only made explicit very gradually over centuries. Accordingly, counter-revolutionary authors sensed from the very beginning - and legitimately so - that in all revolutionary formulations there was something which transcended the formulations themselves. Within each stage of the revolutionary process it is much more important to consider the mentality of the Revolution than simply the ideology enunciated in that particular stage. If such work is to be profound, efficient, and entirely objective, the progress of the Revolution´s march must be followed step by step in a painstaking effort to make explicit what is implicit in the revolutionary process. Only in this way is it possible to attack the Revolution as it should be attacked. All this has obliged counter-revolutionaries to keep their eyes fixed on the Revolution, while elaborating and affirming their theses in terms of its errors. In this arduous intellectual labor, the doctrines of truth and order that exist in the sacred deposit of the Magisterium of the Church constitute the treasury from which the counter-revolutionary draws things new and old45 to refute the Revolution as he sees deeper and deeper into its tenebrous abysses.

Thus, in several of its most important aspects, counter-revolutionary work is wholesomely negativistic and polemical. For analogous reasons, the ecclesiastical Magisterium more often than not defines truths in relation to the heresies arising in the course of history, and it formulates these truths as a condemnation of the opposing errors. The Church has never feared that she would harm souls by acting in this way.

3. Wrong Attitudes In Face Of The Revolution´s Slogans

A. Ignoring Revolutionary Slogans
The counter-revolutionary effort must not be bookish. In other words, it cannot content itself with dialectics against the Revolution at a purely scientific, academic level. While recognizing the great, even very great, importance of this level, the Counter-Revolution must habitually keep its sights trained on the Revolution as thought, felt, and lived by public opinion as a whole. In this sense, counter-revolutionaries ought to give very special importance to the refutation of revolutionary catch phrases.

B. Eliminating the Polemical Aspects of Counter-Revolutionary Action
Sadly, the idea of presenting the Counter-Revolution in a more "sympathetic" and "positive" light by preventing it from attacking the Revolution is the most efficient way to impoverish its content and dynamism.46

Anyone who employs this lamentable tactic displays the same lack of sense as a chief of state who, in face of enemy troops crossing his border, were to halt all armed resistance in the hope of neutralizing the invader by gaining his sympathy. In reality, he would destroy the impetus of the reaction without stopping the enemy. In other words, he would surrender his homeland.

This does not mean that the language of the counter-revolutionary should not show nuances befitting the circumstances.

The Divine Master, when preaching in Judea, which was under the proximate influence of the perfidious Pharisees, used strong language. On the contrary, in Galilee, where the simple-hearted people predominated and the influence of the Pharisees was smaller, His language was more tutorial and less polemical.

Introducing Historical Insight on the Contemporary Crisis

Revolution and Counter-Revolution
by Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira

Originally published as Revolução e Contra-Revolução, in Catolicismo, April 1959 (Parts I and II) and January 1977 (Part III)

First Digital Edition
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