The Second Revolution – Not an Episode, but a Parable of History…

It may not have been the worst of revolutions, nor the culmination of the process aimed at destroying the Church, but it contains lessons that illuminate all aspects of the struggle between good and evil over the centuries.

There is no better way to understand human actions than to know their motivations, especially when making judgements on historical events. That is why, when discussing an event as paradigmatic as the French Revolution, we need to examine the true objective of its mentors and organizers.

The perfect revolution

The great revolution that began in 1789 in the kingdom of the Church’s firstborn daughter was the continuation, in a different field, of the work begun by the Protestant pseudo-reformation, considered in the previous article. The latter implanted the spirit of doubt, religious liberalism and ecclesiastical egalitarianism in society; the former inaugurated full religious egalitarianism, under the label of secularism, and political egalitarianism, spreading the fundamental slogan that all inequality is intrinsically unjust.

Dr. Plinio summed it up well, when he said that the French Revolution was “nothing but the transposition to the ambit of the State of the ‘reform’ that the more radical Protestant sects adopted in the matter of ecclesiastical organization: the revolt against the king, in symmetry with the revolt against the Pope; the revolt of the common people against the nobles, in symmetry with the revolt of the ecclesiastical ‘common people,’ that is, of the faithful against the Church’s ‘aristocracy’, the clergy; the affirmation of popular sovereignty, in symmetry with the government of certain sects, to a greater or lesser extent, by the faithful.”1

Thus, the process that theoretically began with the fall of the Bastille has similarities with both the First Revolution, which preceded it, and the Third, which succeeded it. However, from a certain point of view, it was absolutely unique, as will be explained.

You have certainly witnessed many a storm brewing, but have you ever wondered what a “perfect storm” might be? For a scientist, the ideal storm would be one that lends itself best to study, because it can be observed and analysed from its beginning to its conclusion. In short, one that, when understood, would shed light on all other storms.

In the same vein, we can say that the French Revolution was the perfect revolution. Perhaps it was not the most violent, nor the one in which evil attained the greatest extremes cruelty. But, in the words of Dr. Plinio, it became “an enormous parable, containing all the revolutions, both those of the past and those to come.”2 Accordingly, in its unfolding, the synthesis of the struggle between good and evil over the course of history can be ascertained.

The French Revolution at a glance

From the start of the Revolution in 1789 until the Restoration in 1815, temporal power in French lands underwent several changes. Since the subject is widely known, we will cover it in a quick vol d’oiseau.

In the first phase, France became a constitutional monarchy, in which the king became the almost purely nominal head of the country. Until then, the relationship between the sovereign and the people had been guided by centuries-old traditions and customs, born of an organic society and under the influence of the Catholic Church. From then on, the monarch had to submit to the newly created National Assembly, made up of professional agitators and opportunistic politicians.

This change was only possible thanks to a long preparation of mentalities, carried out with the support and participation of the Ancien Régime elites – both ecclesiastical and aristocratic – who were feeding, consciously or not, the monster that would soon decimate them…

Then the king became a prisoner and the nation a republic, under the rule of the revolutionary intellectual bourgeoisie, the Girondins. Those were days of confusion and chaos in what had formerly earned the epithet of Douce France.

Later, the reins of power passed into the hands of the most radical of the rebels: the Jacobin Montagnards. Then came the Reign of Terror with its slaughter and torture, a terrible phase that began with the famous September Massacres, in which more than half the prisoners in Paris were brutally murdered!

This period ended the days of many famous figures, such as the Princess of Lamballe, whose corpse was horribly mutilated and, according to some testimonies, her heart devoured by the revolutionaries. What was her crime? Not having betrayed her friend, the Queen, in the moment of danger… Finally, it was also the turn of King Louis XVI and then Marie Antoinette, who were guillotined in 1793.

The Revolution is processive: it is made up of various apparently fortuitous phases, but which in fact follow a strict logic and lead, through a sequence of causes and effects, to an ever-worsening crisis
From left to right, different phases in the life of Queen Marie Antoinette: before the Revolution, in 1783; facing the Revolutionary Tribunal, on her way to the guillotine, sketched on the moment by an eyewitness

In the countryside, thousands of innocent people were summarily executed with the most varied excesses of cruelty, which would go far beyond the limits of this article to detail. Joseph Fouché, a revolutionary deputy who was given the title “Butcher of Lyon”3 because of the murders perpetrated in that city, would say: “Yes, we dare to confess it, we shed a lot of impure blood, but it is for humanity, out of duty…”4 However, the reign of Terror also passed, and its actors were ironically led to the same guillotine that they had used to their heart’s content against ecclesiastics, nobles and commoners whom they had deemed averse to their evil intentions.

Faced with a public opinion shocked by so many horrors, the Revolution gradually began to retreat – a veritable waltz of guile! The Jacobin Terror was followed by the Directory phase, again bourgeois. Then came Napoleon who, passing from First Consul to usurper of the Empire, even reached out to the Church with his Concordat and opened the gates of the kingdom to the exiled nobility. Finally, we come to the Restoration, in which the legitimate heirs to the French crown – in very different conditions, however, from those before 1789, because a new world had emerged – returned to reign.

Given this succession of events and phases, what aspects of the Revolution, analysed as a universal process, can we discern?

Revolutionary process

Dr. Plinio5 teaches that one of the characteristics of the Revolution is its process: it is made up of various chronological phases, which are apparently fortuitous, but which in fact follow a strict logic and lead humanity, through a sequence of causes and effects, to an ever-worsening crisis. This aspect of the revolutionary process becomes much clearer and more comprehensible when we look at the specific case of the French Revolution.

Who could have predicted at the height of the Terror, when the most radical revolutionaries seemed omnipotent, that their rule would be so short-lived? In reality, the masterminds of the French Revolution were well aware that a system based almost strictly on the use of brute force would alienate them from public opinion, forcing them, sooner rather than later, to retreat.

A historic dialogue between Danton, Minister of Justice during the Terror, and Louis-Philippe d’Orléans, then an officer in the revolutionary army and the future king of the French, although of a tendency thoroughly consonant with the Revolution, proves the veracity of this theory. The former clearly stated that the Republic would not be maintained for long, as the French nation was still strongly inclined towards monarchy, and asserted that when the uprisings ended in the apparent failure of the revolutionaries, a drastic change would have been effected in the mentality of the people, who would then be ready to accept a more liberal monarchy.

And the predictions continued: Louis Philippe would be elevated to the royal throne, as a “citizen king”, to help the Revolution achieve its ultimate goals. This very precise “prophecy” would be fulfilled to the letter thirty-eight years later…6

Thus, even at the height of their dictatorship, the revolutionary leaders were fully aware that this state of affairs would not last. So why did they agree to play an inglorious role, doomed to perish? Because they realized that, despite their defeat at a specific moment, the Revolution would advance; perhaps not as quickly as they would have liked, but inexorably.

Faced with such undeniable historical evidence, is it still possible to believe in what appear to be coincidences in the Revolution? They can only maintain this appearance before a superficial observer, because each of the changes or metamorphoses, to use the term employed by Dr. Plinio,7 obeyed a rigorous logic.

The larva, the butterfly and the Revolution

Metamorphosis is the phenomenon by which certain animals, at a certain period in their development, become so radically modified in their structure as to be almost unrecognizable. So, for someone not familiar with the basics of biology, the butterfly may seem to be a different insect from the larva that remained enclosed in the cocoon, but the scientist is well aware that one has only metamorphosed into the other, remaining the same insect. Curiously, something similar happens in the sociological field…

As already mentioned, the French Revolution was not a series of sporadic social movements, but a logical sequence of events, propagated with a view to a specific end. However, it managed to deceive many and disguise this tragic reality through the tactic of metamorphosis.

In fact, when public opinion could no longer tolerate the excesses of the Terror, and only the brute force of arms and the shedding of rivers of blood could sustain the Jacobins in power, the Revolution used a “strategic retreat”.

And it succeeded. In the eyes of ordinary people, when the Directory took control of the government, the main perpetrators of the French Revolution seemed to have finally been eliminated. In fact, the new leaders continued the previous work in a more discreet way.

Another characteristic example of revolutionary metamorphosis can be found in the behaviour of Napoleon Bonaparte. His rise to power, following the Directory and marked by his subsequent self-coronation as monarch of the French, appeased many who did not sympathize with the Republic at any price. The Corsican used this strategic situation to advance the revolutionary cause.

His very title was an affirmation of human sovereignty over divine power. In fact, until then, French monarchs had been called Kings of France, a title that implied an office received from God to govern the first-born daughter of the Church. Napoleon, for his part, called himself Emperor of the French, suggesting a supremacy dissociated from the authority that came from on high. The will of the people would certainly replace divine right… It is no surprise, then, that on the day of his coronation he snatched the crown from the hands of the Supreme Pontiff, forcibly brought into the act, in order to place it on his own head.

Furthermore, the Napoleonic armies, carrying revolutionary ideas to half of Europe in their soldiers’ backpacks, caused the overthrow of countless Catholic thrones and traditions on the continent, not to mention the deaths of five million people in just twelve years! Bonaparte’s crimes also included outrages against two Roman Pontiffs, Pius VI and Pius VII. These horrors, combined with the imposition of revolutionary laws and customs in the places he conquered, demonstrate how his actions were nothing more than a successful metamorphosis.

However, over time, those events also became intolerable to public opinion, and the time came to put an end to the French Revolution with the return of the old kings of France: the Bourbons.

From left to right, the different faces of the Revolution from the Constitutional Monarchy to the Restoration: Louis XVI at the Festival of the Federation in 1790; Girondin leaders being led to the scaffold; Marat, one of the mentors of the Terror; Paul Barras, president of the Directory of 1795 to 1799; Napoleon Bonaparte, emperor of the French; Louis Philippe d’Orléans, the “citizen king”

Revolutionary lies and the inertia of the good

In addition to using metamorphoses to reach the desired end without the risk of losing the ground it had gained, the Revolution marched on from lie to lie. The events of the 18th and 19th centuries on French soil were only made possible by the spread of calumnies – many of which have been extensively disproved by historians – about the king, the nobles, the clergy and the Ancien Régime in general, which circulated among the people in the period prior to the Revolution.

However, this revolutionary falseness necessarily leads to an uncomfortable truth: if the Revolution lied, it was because it needed to deceive non-revolutionaries. Had these been intransigent and suspicious of revolutionary “good intentions”, the plan would never have succeeded. How different history would be if good people used sagacity as they should!

Unfortunately, the effects of the shockwave produced by the French Revolution were not limited to the successive extinction of European monarchies, accompanied by the “mass production of republics throughout the world.”8 We know very well that it was one of the remote but real causes of the Third Revolution: the “proto-communist” François-Noël Babeuf was one of its authors, and the insurrection that went down in history under the name of the Paris Commune, a direct precursor of the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia, was provoked by successors of the French revolutionaries.

The Second Revolution therefore had a purpose that was largely achieved: the establishment of egalitarianism in politics and secularism in society.

The French Revolution and our days

As was said at the beginning of these lines, the French Revolution is a true parable of history. By studying it in the light of Dr. Plinio’s teachings, we understand many of the principles that govern the universal struggle between good and evil.

Many other lessons may still be learned, but it will be up to the reader, who now has many of the necessary tools for a serious study from the perspective of Revolution and Counter-Revolution, to delve more deeply into the analysis of this subject that is both intriguing and compelling. 



1 RCR, P.I, c.3, 5, C.

2 CORRÊA DE OLIVEIRA, Plinio. Conference. São Paulo, 19/5/1979.

3 ZWEIG, Stefan. José Fouché. 8.ed. Porto: Civilização, 1960, p.51.

4 Idem, p.56.

5 Cf. RCR, P.I, c.3, 5.

6 Cf. GRUYER, François-Anatole. La jeunesse du Roi Louis-Philippe. Paris: Hachette, 1909, p.125-126.

7 Cf. RCR, P.I, c.4.

8 Idem, c.3, 5, E.



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