Foreword by Prince Luiz de Orleans e Bragança

November 4, 2010


Foreword

Prince Luiz de Orleans e Bragança

(Head of the Imperial House of Brazil)

Prince Luiz de Orleans e Bragança

Underneath the festive triumphalism of the post-WWII and post-Vatican II period a simmering discontent gradually developed and grew, suddenly exploding in 1968. That was the Sorbonne student riot, whose worldwide consequences opened new horizons of nonsense, corruption and moral chaos theretofore unsuspected by the masses.

A monumental demonstration in the streets of Paris known as the “one million people march” to protest against the Sorbonne riots, done with vigor and enthusiasm by older individuals did little to quell the new revolution. The same can be said of protests coming from all quadrants, many from prestigious and renowned personalities.

From the Sorbonne student revolt to this day, noticeable changes have taken place in multiple spheres of human thought and conduct. These changes have almost always tended to make the world in 1993 considerably more similar to the goals of the Sorbonne revolution.

Chaos has been spreading everywhere, and it would be both superfluous and impossible to show it here. Superfluous, because today only those blinded by chaos are unable to see it. Impossible, because chaos is so general that it would be impracticable to list its consequences or the places where it exists in the foreword to a book. Indeed, if we attempted to do that, this preface would become more voluminous than the book it aims to introduce to readers.

* * *

So far I have only tried to outline, as briefly as possible, the general outlook of the times in which Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira has carried out his work as a thinker, writer, teacher and world-renowned conservative Catholic leader.

Councilor João Alfredo Corrêa de Oliveira

Among family members with outstanding participation in public life one finds Councilor João Alfredo Corrêa de Oliveira, Senator for life of the Empire and also a life member of the State Council.

He was born of two great Brazilian families. On his paternal side, he hails from the noble Corrêa de Oliveira family, sugarcane mill owners in Pernambuco, descending from heroes of the war against invading Dutch heretics. Among family members with outstanding participation in public life one finds Councilor João Alfredo Corrêa de Oliveira, Senator for life of the Empire and also a life member of the State Council. He became a celebrity as Prime Minister for promulgating, with my great-grandmother, Princess Isabel—regent of the Empire at the time—the Law of May 13, 1888 freeing the slaves, known as the “Golden Law.” In 1889, as the republic was proclaimed through a military coup, João Alfredo—as a person of confidence of the “Redeemer” Princess then exiled in France—presided over the Monarchist Directory. That celebrated statesman—one of Brazil’s most famous—had a brother who owned the sugarcane mill of Uruaé, Mr. Leodegar Corrêa de Oliveira, whose grandson is the author of this book.

His mother, Lucilia Ribeiro dos Santos, belonged to the traditional class of São Paulo’s so-called four-hundred year old families that descend from the founders and early residents of that city. Among his ancestors were many famous explorers. From the maternal ancestry of Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira stood out during the reign of Emperor Pedro II, Prof. Gabriel José Rodrigues dos Santos, chaired professor at the then already famous São Paulo Law School, lawyer, gifted orator and deputy at the provincial level and later at the national level, roles in which he soon became well-known. Death took him prematurely.

 

Doña Lucilia

His mother, Lucilia Ribeiro dos Santos, belonged to the traditional class of São Paulo’s so-called four-hundred year old families that descend from the founders and early residents of that city.

The ideological debates that marked the Empire (1822-1889) and the first decades of the Republic (1889-1930) echoed deeply in both families, producing well-known divisions: in the religious field, some remained firmly loyal to the Catholic Faith, while others adhered to positivism, the latest ideological fad in those times. In the political sphere, some remained loyal to the former regime, while others joined the Republic, in whose political struggles they played a prominent role.

Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira witnessed in his family that clash of opinions usually emphatic but cordial, in the Brazilian way.

He gradually took stands on these important matters according to the innocence and piety of his still young but remarkably precocious and lucid mind. Over the years, his positions were confirmed by reflection, study and an impartial analysis of events. From an early age, he showed a marked preference for historical subjects.

Consistent with his line of thought, Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira became a well-known leader in academia as an intrepid practicing Catholic and a declared monarchist.

It is not my intention to add here biographical data about this outstanding Brazilian. That is already found in another part of this volume. But I do want to analyze the profound meaning of his intellectual work, which can be studied in his published books and the numerous articles he has written.

Gaston d´Orléans, the count of Eu, surrounded by a crowd on his arrival the northern region of Brazil.

Catholics and monarchists existed in Brazil all along the trajectory of Plinio Correa de Oliveira.

Catholics and monarchists existed in Brazil all along the trajectory of Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira. Catholics increasingly grew in numbers and fervor until progressivism erupted among them, inevitably bringing divisions, noisy polemics and the consequent dispersion and dwindling of forces.

On the contrary, the monarchists – whose freedom of thought and action was tyrannically suppressed by decree no. 85-A of December 23, 1889, confirmed by art. 90 of the first republican Constitution of 1891 (the “Stone Clause”) and the several Constitutions that followed in the new regime’s agitated life—gradually diminished in number until 1988, when the 6th republican Constitution suppressed the unfortunate “Stone Clause” finally allowing monarchists to exercise a political freedom that the Republic never denied anyone, even Communists!

From then on, an ideological and political phenomenon took place, unexpected to many Brazilians: Monarchists started to appear in all social classes, in different States, and they gathered in well-deserving groups such as the Conselho Pró-Monarquia Brasil, the Círculos Monárquicos, the Ação Monárquica Feminina and the Juventude Monárquica Brasileira, all of them intimately linked to me as the legitimate successor to Emperor Pedro II. They are making great strides in the peaceful but valiant action that I lead with the brilliant and efficient help of my brother and eventual successor, Prince Bertrand.

Prince Bertrand of Orléans-Braganza, Prince Imperial of Brazil

They are making great strides in the peaceful but valiant action that I lead with the brilliant and efficient help of my brother and eventual successor, Prince Bertrand.

These monarchists have great admiration for Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira, the intrepid anticommunist leader who remained a self-proclaimed monarchist intellectual even during the toughest period of what could be called the monarchic recession. As a matter of fact, his thought constitutes a precious contribution to the monarchic polemic, which is traditionalist in essence.

A considerable number of friends and admirers of monarchy are also found in the Brazilian Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property – TFP, the largest anticommunist organization of Catholic inspiration today, founded by Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira, to which my brother Bertrand and I have enthusiastically belonged from our early youth.

Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira is a constant target of attacks by so-called leftist Catholics and adversaries of tradition of the most various hues—from moderate socialists to radical communists and “ecologists” in the militant sense of the word, including certain centrists who are nothing but camouflaged followers of socialism. On the other hand, he is recognized as the undisputed leader of Catholics who take, on the strictly philosophical and cultural plane, a position known by analogy as the Catholic right.

* * *

Revolution and Counter-Revolution

To this day, Revolution and Counter-Revolution is Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira’s masterpiece. I am certain that Nobility and Analogous Traditional Elites in the Allocutions of Pius XII to the Roman Patriciate and Nobility will stand right next to it in the general consensus.

To this day, Revolution and Counter-Revolution is Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira’s masterpiece. I am certain that Nobility and Analogous Traditional Elites in the Allocutions of Pius XII to the Roman Patriciate and Nobility will stand right next to it in the general consensus.

Published in 1959, Revolution and Counter-Revolution has had successive editions in many countries in Europe and the Americas. It is the bedside book of TFP members and volunteers in 24 countries on the five continents.

That work is a theological, philosophical and sociological analysis of the crisis in the West, from its origins in the fourteenth century to today. The essence of the thought of Revolution and Counter-Revolution—RCR, as many call it for short—is that the religious softness and decadence of customs characteristic of that century spread in Europe an immoderate thirst for life’s pleasures and therefore caused a serious moral crisis that deeply affected Humanism and the Renaissance. By its nature, it was much more a crisis in tendencies than one in doctrinal beliefs. But given the fundamental unity of man, it soon spread also to the intellectual sphere.

Portrait of Henry VIII Painted by Hans Holbein the Younger

The religious softness and decadence of customs characteristic of that century spread in Europe an immoderate thirst for life’s pleasures and therefore caused a serious moral crisis that deeply affected Humanism and the Renaissance.

 

A moral crisis leads, sooner or later, to opposition to all law and all restraint. At first, that opposition may be no more than antipathy. However, it gives rise to a tendency to raise doctrinal objections—sometimes more radical, sometimes less— against the very existence of authorities responsible, by the very nature of things, for repressing the various forms of evil. Hence, in minds predisposed to this by evil tendencies, one also finds doctrinal opposition to all law and all restraint. The final term of this process is anarchy in doctrine and in facts.

This is a description of Illuminist liberalism, whose ultimate and most radical expression is anarchism. And it is into anarchy that the contemporary world is sinking.

 

 Painting by Charles Lemonnier, which records a meeting in 1755 of the reading in the salon of Madame Geoffrin, of the tragedy of the Orphan of China by Voltaire. Madame Geoffrin sits between the Prince of Conti and Fontenelle.Lecture de la tragédie de l'orphelin de la Chine de Voltaire dans le salon de madame Geoffrin

This is a description of Illuminist liberalism, whose ultimate and most radical expression is anarchism. And it is into anarchy that the contemporary world is sinking.

The emergence of liberalism, which I would qualify as “anarchy-generating” brings another fruit, which is opposition to all inequalities. Liberalism is egalitarian. Wherever all authority is rejected with indignant emphasis, so is every inequality. For any superiority, whatever the field in which it manifests itself, entails some kind of power or directive influence by one who is more, over one who is less. Hence, you have egalitarianism, whose ultimate consequence is to reinforce anarchism.

Finally, the annihilation of every distinction between truth and error, good and evil, creates the illusion of strengthening peace among men by the interpenetration and leveling of all religions, philosophies and schools of thought and culture. Everything is equal to everything else: an indirect way of saying that everything is nothing. It is chaos implanted in the deepest roots of human thought, complete disorder in man’s very existence.

Rainbow Gathering Bosnia 2007  Photo by Aljaz Zajc

Everything is equal to everything else: an indirect way of saying that everything is nothing.

This, which could be called a genealogy of errors and catastrophes—“abyssus abyssum invocat”—happens not only in the realm of the abstract but also in the real world.

RCR shows that this libertarian, egalitarian and “fraternal” process—for it is under the pretext of fraternity that the world festival of ecumenism in all fields and subjects is now being held—first exploded in the apocalyptic Protestant revolution, which denied the supreme and universal authority of the Popes. Various Protestant sects also denied the authority of bishops; and other more radical ones rejected the authority of priests and proclaimed the anarchic principle of free interpretation of Scripture.

Turning from the religious sphere to politics, one sees that the same thinking was at the very root of the French Revolution, which aimed to shape the State and society according to the principles of Liberty, Equality and Fraternity inherent in Protestantism. It denied the King, as Protestantism had denied the Pope; it denied the nobility, as some Protestant sects strongly curtailed the powers of the clergy (which is the Church’s nobility) while other sects eliminated it completely; and it proclaimed, in the name of free thought, the principle of popular sovereignty as Protestantism had proclaimed the principle of free interpretation of Holy Writ.

Opening of the Estates General at Versailles in 1789

Turning from the religious sphere to politics, one sees that the same thinking was at the very root of the French Revolution, which aimed to shape the State and society according to the principles of Liberty, Equality and Fraternity inherent in Protestantism.

The revolutionaries of 1789 left only private property standing, with the consequent primacy of the owner over his workers and, by analogy, of intellectuals over manual workers. Yet in its last throes, through the pen of Communist Babeuf, the French Revolution denied even those last residual inequalities.

For his part, in1848, Marx proclaimed complete socioeconomic equality and Lenin applied it in Russia beginning in 1917.

At the end of this millennium, those three catastrophic revolutions, each generated by its predecessor, are giving rise to the self-managing and tribal Fourth Revolution as Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira states in the more recent editions of Revolution and Counter-Revolution; a book for whose 1960 French edition my late father, Prince Pedro Henrique, wrote a substantial and beautiful preface precisely in the sense I have just enunciated, showing the intellectual caliber of the work of Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira.

RCR was clearly written to alert the bourgeoisie of the West, comfortably sleeping in its pleasures and enjoying its business deals, to the supreme risk heading in its direction. It is not only a speculative book but a denunciation made in the hope of giving rise to a movement from which a counter-attack would come. The foundation of the TFP in Brazil, its spreading throughout my country’s vast territory and the dissemination of its ideals on the five continents are a fruit of the personal and concrete efforts of this thinker and man of action whose genius has impacted the very core of contemporary reality.

The island of Es Vedra sits off the southwest coast of Ibiza

Like a rock on the tip of a promontory assailed by the waves, the nobility has suffered successive attacks from the French Revolution onward. Its political power has been taken away almost everywhere.

Now then, Nobility and Analogous Traditional Elites in the Allocutions of Pius XII to the Roman Patriciate and Nobility has precisely that character of an intellectual work destined to influence events on a profound level.

* * *

Like a rock on the tip of a promontory assailed by the waves, the nobility has suffered successive attacks from the French Revolution onward. Its political power has been taken away almost everywhere. Laws generally deny it any specific right except the use of titles and traditional names. The general movement of the economy and finances has steered into different hands the torrential riches that have raised capitalism to a pinnacle and enabled the jet set to show off their lights—or rather their glittering sequins—everywhere.

How much of the nobility, then, survives? Having been reduced to what it now is, does it still have a right to exist? How does this help the nobility and the common good? Should it irreducibly confine itself to the circle of the “well-born”? Or, if the nobility endures, should the noble condition also extend to new, analogous, though not identical, elites?

With his stellar consistency, Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira sees the nobility as one of those immobile rocks without whose epic—and at times tragic—resistance to the breaking waves of the three Revolutions the promontory’s landmass, that is, civilizations and cultures, would have lost their cohesion and dissolved in the turbulent waves.

Coat of arms of the Vatican City

A friend of harmonious and balanced hierarchy in all areas of human activity, Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira, with lucid interpretation, applies the principles of Pius XII to all social classes without merging them and even less confusing them with one another.

 

It is not uncommon to find members of the nobility aware of the individual duties that their noble condition entails—such as setting a good example to other classes, having a morally blameless behavior or assisting the underprivileged. Yet the same nobles often have only vague notions, at best, of the issues listed above.

Incidentally, a similar phenomenon takes place with other classes. First of all, with the most favored one in the existing social structure, that is, the bourgeoisie. While its strongest point of support is the right of private property, only rarely does one find bourgeois who are cognizant of the moral and religious foundations of the right of private property and the duties that it entails.

To both these classes the work of Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira provides invaluable assistance by publishing the full text of the speeches of Pius XII to the Roman Patriciate and Nobility with explanatory comments and very eloquent historical examples.

Profoundly imbued with the principles taught by the Popes, Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira is totally opposed to the class struggle mindset.

Painting by Jose Roberto Dias Tavares

He does not see the line of demarcation between the nobility and the people as a conflict zone. Quite the contrary, he shows us the historical, military and agricultural nobility as an elevated and pure summit of the social organization. Yet that is not an inaccessible summit but simply a pinnacle difficult to climb, as nature dictates that people rise only by merit.

He does not see the line of demarcation between the nobility and the people as a conflict zone. Quite the contrary, he shows us the historical, military and agricultural nobility as an elevated and pure summit of the social organization. Yet that is not an inaccessible summit but simply a pinnacle difficult to climb, as nature dictates that people rise only by merit.

For Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira, the prospect of an arduous ascent of members of the bourgeoisie to the noble condition should be seen as a friendly invitation to acquire merits that may then receive due glorification. Furthermore, in our era when technology has deeply penetrated manual work and the working class has considerable and highly nuanced levels of instruction that should not be underestimated, there are many possibilities for meritorious, professional and social promotion that it would be unfair not to take into account.

A friend of harmonious and balanced hierarchy in all areas of human activity, Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira, with lucid interpretation, applies the principles of Pius XII to all social classes without merging them and even less confusing them with one another.

But it is easy to see that his earnest solicitude is turned especially to the two extremes of the social hierarchy, giving rise to his brilliant comments on the preferential option for the nobles and the preferential option for the poor.

As far as I am concerned, I heartily adopt this twofold option easily noticeable in the mentality and work of various monarchs of the House of Bragança in Portugal and Brazil. In this book—based on the Papal allocutions which he quotes and comments on—the author’s attention is turned specifically to the preferential option for the nobles without any prejudice to the preferential option for the poor.

It is a special mission of the nobility to act in defense of kings, whether they are in power and possessing the fullness of their prerogatives or whether they are kings only “de jure”—with that authority coming from their ancestors which no violence or demagoguery can legitimately suppress.

For their part, it is the obligation of monarchs to love, respect and support their nobles and make an effective preferential option for them, not limited to gestures and courtesy. It is in this spirit that, on closing these lines, I turn my thought full of friendship toward the nobilities and analogous elites of Portugal—the beloved and glorious land of my forefathers, and to those of my dear Brazil—a country great for many deeds but above all for the hopes that Providence inspires in regard to her future.

Painting by Jose Roberto Dias Tavares

For their part, it is the obligation of monarchs to love, respect and support their nobles and make an effective preferential option for them, not limited to gestures and courtesy. It is in this spirit that, on closing these lines, I turn my thought full of friendship toward the nobilities and analogous elites of Portugal—the beloved and glorious land of my forefathers, and to those of my dear Brazil—a country great for many deeds but above all for the hopes that Providence inspires in regard to her future.

 

Within the framework of a constitutional monarchy, the only conceivable form of monarchy today, I yearn from the bottom of my heart for that future to be Christian, strong and interwoven as it were in an ideal Commonwealth with the Catholic faith, feelings and cultures uniting the various peoples, races and nations that truly love Portugal and speak Portuguese.

Therefore, as Head of the Brazilian branch of the House of Braganza and an enthusiastic and affectionate friend of Portuguese tradition, I am pleased to introduce this book by Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira and highly recommend its reading to the Portuguese public. I augur that it will be applauded by all those who know and feel what true nobility is like: One that helps the people to always be what Pius XII recommends, that is, a true people animated with thoughts worthy of being called Christian; a people who do not capitulate to the threat of becoming an inorganic and inert mass thrown into various directions by the psy-dictatorship of big media cartels.

São Paulo, March 25, 1993
Luiz de Orleans e Bragança

 

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