Sacred Scriptures tell us that there is a “book of life” (Phil 4:3; Rev 13:8; 17:8; 20:15; 21:27) that lists not only the blessed in Paradise, but also those already living in a state of beatitude in this vale of tears. In this sense, it can be attested that Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira’s life was, in practice, a constant preface to Heaven, while he continued to fight without ceasing for the Church Militant with the weapons of God, to resist the insidious wiles of the devil (cf. Eph 6:11).
Born at the dawn of the 20th century, in the little São Paulo of yesteryear, the boy Plinio received an exemplary religious, academic and social education from an early age, thanks to the care of his zealous mother, Lucilia.
As an adolescent, he had to resolutely cross the swamp of sin that inundated his surroundings. These circumstances allowed him to discern the phenomenon that he would later call the Revolution, which, like a hydra, was progressively attacking the last remnants of Christian Civilization, at that time casting their final glimmers.
When he joined the Catholic movement, Dr. Plinio realized that this Leviathan was daring to breathe dense darkness into the very heart of the Catholic Church, and he wondered how he could somehow intercept its advance.
Accordingly, he came to a conclusion: “If I do not fight the Revolution, I will not have lived.” In other words, the book of his life had to be a true gest, or it simply would not be. His full identification with this ideal – the Counter-Revolution – has meant that his name has become, in a paradigmatic and irrefutable way, a standard for those who follow this path, even almost three decades after his departure for eternity.
In 1943 his first book, In Defence of Catholic Action, was published. Prefaced by the Apostolic Nuncio to Brazil, Archbishop Benedetto Aloisi Masella, and the subject of a letter of praise on behalf of Pius XII, sent by His Holiness’ Secretariat of State and signed by Monsignor Giovanni Battista Montini, the future Paul VI, the work denounced the germs of egalitarianism and secularization that had been stealthily introduced into the ecclesial sphere. Time proved that Dr. Plinio’s prognoses were correct.
Although silenced and curtailed on all sides, he remained steadfast in his counter-revolutionary crusade, which culminated in the publication in 1959 of his masterpiece, Revolution and Counter-Revolution. Stifled in every way at the time – both due to the incomprehension of Dr. Plinio’s disciples as well as the sabotage of his external enemies – the book would stand the test of time and would soon become a point of reference for numerous Catholic associations and intellectuals around the world.
What is more, the sixty-five years that have passed since then would prove him right – so much so that this anniversary deserves attention not only because of the chronological milestone, but also because of the current stage of the Revolution, outlined with prophetic clarity in the essay, both in its original wording and in the supplements added in 1976 and 1992.
For the author, the Revolution is “a movement that aims to abolish a legitimate power or order and to replace it with an illegitimate power or state of things.”1 Dr. Plinio describes the crisis of contemporary man from a theoretical and historical perspective because, in his view, it has the following characteristics: it is universal, one, total, dominant and processive.2
To paraphrase, this movement is found throughout the world in a unitary and hegemonic manner, seeking to undertake a conscious and gradual domination over individuals and groups.
The roots of this process go back to the first of all the revolutions, that of Lucifer, the “proto-revolutionary”, the effects of which obliterated the most perfect of hierarchies, that is, the angelic. Against him rose St. Michael the Archangel, “the first to raise the cry of counter-revolutionary indignation” in the face of the “first revolution, the matrix revolution, the model and focus of those that followed,” according to Plinian expressions.
The sin of Adam and Eve, Cain, Ahab and the Baalites, as well as the insidiousness of Herod, Annas, Caiaphas and Judas Iscariot against the God-Man followed in these revolutionary footsteps. Another line could be headed by Nero, Julian the Apostate, Arius and the many other heresiarchs, right up to the present day…
However, the processive character of the Revolution was born more specifically after the end of the Middle Ages, when the phenomenon became global, capillarized
and with well-defined genetics: it is essentially, radically and metaphysically egalitarian. Its specific manifestations in each of the successive revolutionary explosions will be seen in detail throughout the articles in this special issue, from its outbreak with the advent of the Renaissance, Humanism and subsequently the Protestant pseudo-reformation, to the follies of our times, which seem to make palpable the “dreams” of the first revolutionary, mentioned a few lines earlier.
In fact, in his 1992 postscript, Dr. Plinio outlined the characteristics of a revolution whose etreme point would coincide with the devil’s own goal as enunciated in Christ’s temptation: “All these I will give You, if You will fall down and worship me” (Mt 4:9).
Faced with this giant viper with chameleon skin, Dr. Plinio was never tempted by defeatism. Rather, discerning that the struggle between the Revolution and the Counter-Revolution is the same as that between good and evil, he recognized that the latter was already doomed to ruin. Nor did he surrender to complacency, aware that the serpent will spew venom until the final chapter of history, when it will finally be thrown into the “lake of fire and sulphur” (Rev 20:10).
With this great battle in mind, Dr. Plinio wrote, far beyond an essay, his own counter-revolutionary epopee. In the first place, he did so by embodying the arduous and sublime moral character of his doctrine and, therefore, by recording the book of his life in the “book of life”, with the specific imprint of the struggle that Providence led him to wage throughout the 20th century. But he concluded this composition above all by transposing the RCR into the souls of numerous disciples, in other words, by embodying in people, actions and institutions the immense gift of wisdom with which he had been endowed by Divine Wisdom. Many men write books, but few leave a legacy, a school of life and thought.
The RCR was the foundation of Dr. Plinio’s work; his children, the living stones of that building. The RCR was his masterpiece; his followers, most notably Msgr. João, his “masterpieces”. ◊
1 RCR, P.I, c.7, 1, A. References to quotations from this work of Dr. Plinio transcribed in the articles in this issue of our magazine will be made using the acronym RCR – frequently used by the author himself to refer to his masterpiece – followed by an indication of the part, chapter and other elements of the book’s internal structure.
2 Cf. Idem, c.3.