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Revolution and Counter-Revolution



After reading the previous words, the reader will necessarily wonder where the revolutionary process stands today. Is the Third Revolution still alive? Or does the collapse of the Soviet empire permit us to affirm that the Fourth Revolution is erupting in the deepest levels of the political reality of Eastern Europe, or even that it has won?

We must make a distinction. Today, the currents of thought that advocate the implantation of the Fourth Revolution have spread - though in different forms - throughout the world and reveal nearly everywhere a marked tendency to increase in volume.

In this sense, the Fourth Revolution is in a crescendo that is promising to those who desire it and threatening to those who oppose it. However, it would be exaggerated to say that the present order of things in the former U.S.S.R. is already totally modeled according to the Fourth Revolution and that nothing of the Third Revolution remains there.

The Fourth Revolution, although having also a political dimension, identifies itself as a cultural revolution. In other words, it broadly encompasses all aspects of human existence. Therefore, the political clashes that may occur among the nations that once formed the U.S.S.R. could strongly condition the Fourth Revolution, yet they will hardly dominate the events, the ensemble of human acts encompassed by the cultural revolution.

But what about the public opinion of the former Soviet countries (many of them still ruled by old communists)? Has it nothing to tell us about this, since, according to Revolution and Counter-Revolution, it had such a great role in the previous revolutions?

This question cannot be answered unless other questions are answered first. Is there truly a public opinion in these countries? Can it be induced to participate in a systematic revolutionary process? If not, what are the plans of the top national and international leaders of communism for orienting this public opinion?

These questions are difficult to answer, as presently public opinion in the former Soviet world is evidently indifferent, amorphous, and immobilized by the weight of seventy years of total dictatorship. Under this tyranny, every individual feared to manifest his religious or political opinion in many circles, even to his closest relative or most intimate friend. A probable denunciation - veiled or open, true or false - could consign him to indefinite hard labor on the frozen expanses of Siberia. Nevertheless, these questions must be answered if we are to render a prognosis of the course of events in the erstwhile Soviet world.

Moreover, the international media continues to publicize the eventual migration of famished semicivilized - ergo semibarbarian - hordes to the prosperous European countries living under the regime of Western consumerism.

Starved not only of food but of ideas, what do these pitiable people understand of the free world, at once supercivilized and gangrenous? On meeting it, would they not clash with it? And what would result from this clash, both in an invaded Europe and, by extension, in the old Soviet world? A self-managing, cooperationist, structuralist-tribalist revolution95 or an immediate world of total anarchy, of chaos and horror, which we would not hesitate to call the Fifth Revolution?

At the moment this edition goes to press, any answer to these questions would be manifestly premature. Not that they should not be asked now, for the future is so unpredictable that it might be too late to ask them tomorrow. Indeed, of what use are books, thinkers, or remnants of civilization in a tribal world beset by the hurricanes of the disordered human passions and the deliria of structuralist-tribalist "mysticism" - what a tragic situation, in which nobody would be anything in the empire of Nothingness.

* * *

Gorbachev is still in Moscow, where he will remain, at least as long as he does not accept the highly preferential invitations quickly extended him by the prestigious universities of Harvard, Stanford, and Boston after his downfall,96 or the regal hospitality offered by Juan Carlos I, King of Spain, in the renowned palace of Lanzarote, on the Canary Islands,97 or the university chair to which he was invited by the famous College de France.98

Defeated in the East, the communist ex-leader´s only difficulty seems to be choosing among the many flattering invitations he is receiving from the West. Thus far, he has decided to write a syndicated series of articles for newspapers in the capitalist world - a world whose highest levels continue to provide him fervent and inexplicable support - and to travel to the United States amid great publicity to raise funds for the Gorbachev Foundation.

Thus, even though Gorbachev is overshadowed in his own country - and seriously questioned in the West - Western magnates endeavor in various ways to maintain the floodlights of a flattering publicity beamed on the man of perestroika, who made a point, throughout his whole political career, of showing that his reform is not communism ´s contrary but its refinement.99

As for the weak Soviet federation that was agonizing when Gorbachev was overthrown, it became a quasiphantasmal "Commonwealth of Independent States," whose inter-member friction worries statesmen and political analysts. Several of these republics have nuclear weapons and the capability to launch them at a neighbor (or at the enemies of Islam, whose influence grows daily in the former Soviet world), causing great apprehension among those concerned for global balance.

The effects of these eventual atomic aggressions could be multiple. Principal among them could be the exodus of populations formerly contained by the Iron Curtain. Driven by the rigors of bitter winters and by the dangers of immense catastrophes, they might feel redoubled impulses to "request" the hospitality of Western Europe. and of American nations.

In Brazil, Lionel Brizola, Governor of the State of Rio de Janeiro, has already proposed (to the applause of the nation´s minister of agriculture) attracting farmers from Eastern Europe through government land-reform programs.100 Argentine president Carlos Menem, in contacts with the European Economic Community, has said he is willing to have his country accept many thousands of these immigrants.101 The head of the Colombian Foreign Office, Mrs. Nohemi Sanin, has stated that her country´s government was studying the possibility of admitting technicians from the East.102 This is how imminent the waves of invasion may be.

And what of communism? What happened to it? Enthralled at the perspective of a long-lasting universal peace, or even an everlasting peace that would abolish the terrible specter of a global nuclear hecatomb, most of Western public opinion was gripped by the sensation that communism had died.

The West´s honeymoon with this supposed paradise of amity and peace is gradually losing its harmony, as evidenced by the above-mentioned threat of all sorts of aggressions thundering in the territories of the defunct U.S.S.R. Will the Western impression that communism has ended prove any more reliable?

At first, the voices that questioned the authenticity of communism´s demise were few, isolated, and poorly documented.

Nevertheless, little by little, shadows began to appear on the horizon. It was noted that in countries of central Europe, the Balkans, or the former U.S.S.R. some of the new holders of power had been important figures in the local communist party. The move toward privatization in all these countries, with the exception of the old East Germany, is generally more apparent than real, proceeding at a snail´s pace that reveals the lack of an entirely defined direction.

So, did communism die in these countries? Or did it simply enter into a complicated metamorphosis? The doubts in this matter are growing just as the last echoes of the universal rejoicing at the supposed collapse of communism are discreetly fading away.

The Western communist parties had withered in the sight of all at the crash of the first cave-ins of the U.S.S.R.

But already today several of them are reorganizing under new names. Is the change of names a resurrection? A metamorphosis? I am inclined to opt for the second hypothesis. As for certainties, only the future can give them.

This updating of the general scene in face of which the world is taking a position seemed indispensable for any attempt to impart a little light and order to a horizon in whose quadrants chaos is predominating. And what is the spontaneous path of chaos if not the unintelligible worsening of itself?

* * *

Amid this chaos, only one thing will not fail, namely, the prayer transcribed a little earlier and which is in my heart and on my lips, just as it is in the heart of all who see and think as I do:

Unto thee I lift up my eyes, unto thee, who dwellest in the heavens. See how the eyes of servants are fixed on the hands of their masters, the eyes of a handmaid on the hand of her mistress! So our eyes are fixed on Our Lady and Mother, waiting for her to have mercy on us.

Behold the affirmation of the unvarying confidence of the Catholic soul, which kneels but remains firm amid the general convulsion - firm with all the firmness of those who, in the storm, and with a strength of soul even greater than it, continue to affirm from the bottom of their heart: "Credo in Unam, Sanctam, Catholicam et Apostolicam Ecclesiam" that is, "I believe in the Holy Roman Catholic and Apostolic Church, against which, as promised to Saint Peter, the gates of hell will never prevail."

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
Copyright © 2000 The American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property ~ TFP. All rights reserved.

American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property is a registered name of The Foundation for a Christian Civilization, Inc.

The American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property - TFP

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ISBN 1-877905-27-5
Library of Congress Catalogue Card No. 93-073496




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