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Revolution and Counter-Revolution


Chapter VIII: The Processive Character of the Counter-Revolution, and the Counter-Revolutionary "Shock"


1. There Is A Counter-Revolutionary Process
It is evident that, like the Revolution, the Counter-Revolution is a process, and therefore its progressive and methodical march toward order can be studied.

Nevertheless, there are some characteristics that profoundly differentiate this march from the movement of the Revolution toward complete disorder. This results from the fact that the dynamism of good is radically different from the dynamism of evil.

2. Typical Aspects Of The Revolutionary Process

A. In the Rapid March
When discussing the two speeds of the Revolution, we saw that some souls arc gripped by its maxims in a single moment and at once draw all the consequences of error.47

B. In the Slow March
We saw also that others accept the revolutionary doctrine slowly, step by step. In many cases, this process develops continuously down through generations. A "semi-counterrevolutionary" who is strongly opposed to the paroxysms of the Revolution has a son who is less opposed to them, a grandson who is indifferent to them, and a great grandson who is fully integrated in the revolutionary flux. The reason for this, as we have said, is that certain families have in their mentality, subconscious, and ways of feeling a remnant of counter-revolutionary habits and leaven that holds them partly bound to order. In such families the revolutionary corruption is not as dynamic, and therefore error can only advance in their spirits step by step, as it were, disguising itself.

This same slowness of rhythm explains how many people change their opinions enormously in the course of their lives. For example, as adolescents, they have a severe opinion about indecent fashions, according to the environment in which they live. Later, as customs "evolve" in a more dissolute direction, these persons adapt themselves to the successive fashions. As they grow old, they applaud styles of dress that in their youth they would have strongly condemned. They reached this point because they have passed slowly and imperceptibly through the nuanced stages of the Revolution. They had neither the perspicacity nor the energy required to perceive where they were being led by the Revolution, which was acting within and around them. Gradually, they ended up going perhaps even as far as a revolutionary of their own age who in his adolescence had opted for the first speed. Truth and goodness lie defeated in these souls, but not so defeated that, in face of a grave error and a grave evil, they might not suffer a start that at times, in a victorious and salvific way, will make them perceive the perverse depth of the Revolution and lead them to take a categorical and systematic attitude of opposition to all its manifestations. To avoid these wholesome shocks of the soul and these counter-revolutionary crystallizations, the Revolution moves step by step.

3. How To Destroy The Revolutionary Process
If this is bow the Revolution leads the immense majority of its victims, by what means can one of them separate himself from this process? Is this means different from that by which persons dragged by the high-speed revolutionary march convert to the Counter-Revolution?

A. The Many Ways of the Holy Ghost
No one can set limits to the inexhaustible variety of God´s ways within souls. It would be absurd to attempt to reduce such a complex matter to schemata. One cannot, then, in this matter, go beyond indicating some errors to be avoided and some prudent attitudes to be proposed.

Every conversion is a fruit of the action of the Holy Ghost, Who speaks to each one according to his necessities, sometimes with majestic severity and at other times with maternal suavity, yet never lying.

B. Nothing Should Be Hidden
Thus, in the journey from error to truth, the soul does not have to contend with the crafty silences of the Revolution nor with its fraudulent metamorphoses. Nothing it ought to know is hidden from it. Truth and goodness are thoroughly taught to it by the Church. Progress in goodness is not secured by systematically hiding from men the ultimate goal of their formation, but by showing it and rendering it ever more desirable.

The Counter-Revolution must not, then, disguise its whole breadth. It must adopt the eminently wise rules laid down by Saint Pius X as the normative code of behavior for the true apostle: "It is neither loyal nor worthy to hide Catholic status, disguising it with some equivocal banner, as if such status were damaged or smuggled goods."48

Catholics should not "veil the more important precepts of the Gospel out of fear of being perhaps less heeded or even completely abandoned."49 To this the Holy Pontiff judiciously added:

No doubt it will not be alien to prudence, when proposing the truth, to make use of a certain temporization when it is a matter of enlightening men who are hostile to our institutions and entirely removed from God. Wounds that have to be cut into, as Saint Gregory said, should first be touched with a delicate hand. But such skill would take on the aspect of carnal prudence if made a constant and common norm of conduct. This is all the more so since in this way one would seem to have very little regard for Divine grace, which is conferred not only upon the priesthood and its ministers but upon all the faithful of Christ, so that our words and acts might move the souls of these men.50

C. The "Shock" of the Great Conversions
Though we have decried the attempt to reduce this matter to simple schemata, it nevertheless seems to us that complete and conscious adherence to the Revolution as it concretely presents itself is an immense sin, a radical apostasy, from which one can only return by means of an equally radical conversion.

Now, according to history, it seems that the great conversions usually occur by a fulminating thrust of the soul caused by grace on the occasion of a given internal or external fact. This thrust is different in each case but often has certain similar features. In fact, when a revolutionary converts to the Counter-Revolution, this thrust not infrequently takes place along the following general lines:

a. In the soul of the hardened sinner who, in the rapid march of the process, went immediately to the extreme of the Revolution, there are always resources of intelligence and common sense and tendencies toward good that are more or less defined. Although God never deprives these souls of sufficient grace, He frequently waits until they have reached the very depths of misery, wherein He suddenly brings home to them the enormity of their errors and sins as if in a fulgurant flash. Only when he had fallen into the state where he would fain have filled his belly with the husks of the swine did the prodigal son really see himself as he actually was and return to his father´s house.51

b.In the lukewarm and shortsighted soul, which is slowly shipping down the ramp of the Revolution, there still act certain supernatural leavens not entirely refused; values of tradition, order, and religion still glow like embers under the ash. Such souls, by a wholesome shock in a moment of extreme disgrace, may also open their eyes and instantly revive everything that was pining and wasting away within them; it is the rekindling of the smoking wick.52

D. The Likelihood of This Shock in Our Days
Now, since all humanity finds itself in the imminence of a catastrophe, this seems to be precisely the great moment prepared by the mercy of God. Both high - and low - speed revolutionaries can open their eyes in the terrible twilight in which we live and be converted to God.

Without demagoguery, without exaggeration, but at the same time without weakness, the counter-revolutionary must zealously take advantage of the tremendous spectacle of this darkness to bring the facts home to the children of the Revolution, and thus produce in them the saving "flash." To boldly point out the perils that beset us is an essential feature of an authentically counter-revolutionary action.

E. Showing the Whole Face of the Revolution
It is not sufficient to point out the risk that our civilization may disappear altogether. We must know how to reveal amid the chaos that envelops us the whole face of the Revolution in its immense hideousness. Whenever this face is revealed, outbursts of vigorous reaction appear.

For this reason, during the French Revolution and throughout the nineteenth century, the counter-revolutionary movement in France was stronger than ever before. Never had the face of the Revolution been seen so well. The immensity of the maelstrom in which the old order of things had been shipwrecked had suddenly opened the eyes of many people to a host of truths silenced or denied by the Revolution down through the centuries. Above all, the spirit of the Revolution had become clear to them in all its malice and in all its profound connections with ideas and habits long considered innocent by most people.

Thus, the counter-revolutionary must frequently unmask the whole face of the Revolution in order to exorcise the spell it casts upon its victims.

F. Pointing Out the Metaphysical Aspects of the Counter-Revolution
The quintessence of the revolutionary spirit consists, as we have seen, in hating, in principle and on the metaphysical plane, all inequality and all law, especially Moral Law. Moreover, pride, rebelliousness, and impurity are precisely the factors that most impel mankind along the way of the Revolution.53

Therefore, one of the very important parts of counter-revolutionary work is to teach a love for inequality considered on the metaphysical plane, for the principle of authority, and for Moral Law and purity.

G. The Two stages of the Counter-Revolution

a. With the radical change of the revolutionary into a counter-revolutionary, the first stage of the Counter-Revolution ends in him.

b. The second stage may take quite a long time. In it, the soul proceeds to adjust all his ideas and ways of feeling to the position taken in the act of conversion.

These two great and quite distinct stages delineating the counter-revolutionary process are presented here as they occur in a soul considered by itself. Mutatis mutandis, they may occur in large groups and even in whole peoples as well.

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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ISBN 1-877905-27-5
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