Prologue from The Dukes of Maqueda

November 8, 2010


Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira

The author of this work, Prof. Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira, is a personality widely known in Catholic and conservative circles all over the West.

A former congressman for the Catholic Electoral League of São Paulo, he had a brilliant and long teaching career as professor of Modern and Contemporary History at the Colleges of Philosophy, Sciences and Letters “São Bento” and “Sedes Sapientiae” of the Pontifical Catholic University of that city. He has also taught History of Civilization in the famous Law School of the University of São Paulo.

A highly reputed speaker and lecturer in his continent-size country, Prof. Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira stood out as a syndicated columnist in Brazil’s leading newspaper, Folha de São Paulo. As an author, he has published over 2,500 titles between books and articles.

Special mention should be made of his book, In Defense of Catholic Action (1943), honored with a letter of praise sent to the author, on behalf of Pope Pius XII, by Msgr. G. B. Montini, then substitute to the Vatican Secretary of State and later Pope Paul VI; and the essay, The Freedom of the Church in the Communist State (1963), a work acclaimed in a letter by Cardinal G. Pizzardo, then Prefect of the Sacred Congregation for Seminaries and Universities.

“What Does Self-Managing Socialism Mean for Communism: A Barrier? Or a Bridgehead?”

In 1981, his manifesto titled, “What Does Self-Managing Socialism Mean for Communism: A Barrier? Or a Bridgehead?” drew worldwide repercussion. It is a critical analysis of French President Mitterrand’s self-managing socialism.

In 1981, his manifesto titled, “What Does Self-Managing Socialism Mean for Communism: A Barrier? Or a Bridgehead?” drew worldwide repercussion. It is a critical analysis of French President Mitterrand’s self-managing socialism. The work, published in one hundred and fifty-five leading dailies in the Old and New World, was the object of an expressive letter of support by economics Nobel prizewinner Dr. Friedrich A. Hayek.

Perhaps none of his works, however, has had such a profound impact as the essay, Revolution and Counter-Revolution, translated into the world’s major languages.

This book contains a substantial yet succinct exposition on the crisis of the modern world sparked by Humanism, the Renaissance and Protestantism. Those mutually complementary movements, each fully revolutionary in its own sphere, emerged into the political sphere through a kind of ideological osmosis, giving rise to the Enlightenment and the French Revolution.

In the philosophical and political spheres, the doctrines and trends of the revolutionaries of 1789 became more refined and gave rise to Marxism and the Russian Revolution of 1917. What happened next is well known to our contemporaries: the global spread of communist propaganda and the sudden arrival on the scene of a cultural revolution inaugurated by the Sorbonne student riots and the corresponding phenomena of rock music, hippie and punk movements, etc.

Shortly after these movements reached their peak, the Iron Curtain collapsed with a roar and Communism seemed to be in decline. However, to keen observers, notably Prof. Corrêa de Oliveira, those events did not constitute a sharp decline but a shrewd metamorphosis. Indeed, camouflaged mainly in the green, socialist and self-managing ecological revolution, the Communists seek to impose ever more radical transformations on the modern world; transformations even beyond State capitalism, which, in Marx’s thinking, was nothing but a phase.

*     *     *

Revolution and Counter-Revolution

Perhaps none of his works, however, has had such a profound impact as the essay, Revolution and Counter-Revolution, translated into the world’s major languages.

Revolution and Counter-Revolution thus holds a primordial place in the global work of Prof. Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira. It has gone through successive editions in Europe and the Americas since 1959, having been particularly well received by university students.

In light of this essay, in 1960 the author founded in São Paulo a movement of Catholic inspiration, the Brazilian Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property. It quickly spread in his huge country and gave rise to the foundation of similar entities in almost all nations of North and South America, as well as in Costa Rica. At the same time, the ideals of Tradition, Family and Property spread their doctrinal influence to Europe, with TFPs now active in nearly all countries on the old continent.

In addition, TFPs or Bureaus of Representation were also established in Africa, Asia and Oceania, totaling 25 countries.

In 1990, Lithuania sought freedom from the tyranny of Soviet communism. In a worldwide effort, the TFPs collected more than five million signatures, in what the 1993 Guinness Book of World Records termed the largest verifiable petition drive in history.

Thus was formed the world’s largest ensemble of anticommunist organizations of Catholic inspiration; and, as is natural, they do not simply exist and vegetate but are extremely active.

The story of what the various TFPs have done to prevent their nations from falling into the terrible misfortune that Marxist atheists imposed on the many ethnic groups in the now defunct Soviet Union is too long to fit into this foreword. Interested readers can find a complete chronicle in the book, Un ideal, un lema, una gesta (1990).

It is in this context of a rich intellectual production and positive concrete actions in our confused and troubled time that one can understand the full scope of the latest work by Prof. Corrêa de Oliveira, which will be disseminated on five continents by the TFPs and their Bureaus of Representation.

This work answers key questions that beset contemporary man. Indeed, he often times hesitates between two models of society. One has a clearly Catholic and traditional inspiration based on the assumption that proportional and harmonious inequalities between different social classes are fully consistent with Catholic doctrine and the basic principles of Christian civilization.

In Defense of Catholic Action, English and Portuguese Edition

Special mention should be made of his book, In Defense of Catholic Action (1943), honored with a letter of praise sent to the author, on behalf of Pope Pius XII, by Msgr. G. B. Montini, then substitute to the Vatican Secretary of State and later Pope Paul VI;

The other starts from the idea that all inequalities are unjust and lead society to class struggle and sterility, or at least to underproduction.

Those who accept the first model find the preferential option for the poor so praised by Pope John Paul II likeable and important. And they also consider as likeable and essential for a proper social order, the existence of genuine elites with a strong foundation in religion and family.

As the illustrious Brazilian thinker sees it, it is important to preserve the awareness of that great truth in Catholic circles, undermined today by a crisis of authority and, we almost could say, one of identity that led Pope Paul VI to say that “The Church is going through a moment of restlessness. Some exercise self-criticism, one would say almost to the point of self-destruction;” and one has the sensation that “through some crack, the smoke of Satan has penetrated the temple of God.” (Speech to the Lombard Pontifical Seminary, Dec. 7, 1968 and homily, Resistite Fortes in Fide, June 29, 1972 in Insegnamenti di Paolo VI, Tipografia Poliglotta Vaticana, vol. VI, p. 1188 and vol. X, p. 707.)

Taking into account the essentially hierarchical character of the Church founded by Our Lord Jesus Christ and the supreme authority to perform the functions of teaching, sanctifying and governing the faithful which belongs to the Sovereign Pontiff, the author rightly believed that nothing could be more effective to orient Catholics than a study containing the major papal documents on the subject. Catholics in the world today number eight hundred and eighty million; and no voice among them has even remotely the prestige and authority of the Successor of Saint Peter.

The Freedom of the Church in the Communist State

The Freedom of the Church in the Communist State (1963), a work acclaimed in a letter by Cardinal G. Pizzardo, then Prefect of the Sacred Congregation for Seminaries and Universities.

Prof. Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira deemed it necessary to clarify that, without prejudice to the preferential option for the poor, the Catholic faithful should also make a preferential option for the nobility. This goal led him to thoroughly study the fourteen magnificent speeches in which Pius XII, addressing the Roman patriciate and nobility, spoke with paternal affection and inspiring wisdom on what the nobility is today and the duties that it must fulfill. Although deprived of its patrimony, it still has illustrious names and traditions from a past to which it must remain faithful.

At the same time, Pius XII showed that the doors of the nobility should be open to new classes that stand out in the contemporary world through social and economic transformations, classes with which the nobility must maintain a regime of mutual collaboration and gradual osmosis.

The nobility must gradually extend to these classes the attributes of a genuine elite, helping them to gradually rise from “nouveau-riche” intellectual and moral shortcomings to the elevated values of tradition. Conversely, the new categories, grateful for the gifts of the spirit they have received, should show themselves eager to assimilate them for their own good and the common good of society, thus becoming analogous elites akin to the nobility, rather than inimical rivals.

We are confident that these teachings of Pius XII, which the author scholarly complements with quotes from other Popes, Saint Thomas Aquinas and other Doctors of the Church, will help the Spanish nobility to keenly preserve its identity and find in the teachings of Pius XII the clear definition of both its mission and reason for being in contemporary society. For this end, it will find particularly useful the insightful and courageous comments of the distinguished author of this work.

*     *     *

The story of what the various TFPs have done to prevent their nations from falling into the terrible misfortune that Marxist atheists imposed on the many ethnic groups in the now defunct Soviet Union is too long to fit into this foreword. Interested readers can find a complete chronicle in the book, Un ideal, un lema, una gesta (1990).

Permit us, finally, to emphasize with Prof. Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira that the key condition Pius XII established for the nobility and analogous elites to fulfill their important missions in an exemplary way, is that they firmly persevere in the faith, in the exemplary practice of the Commandments, and lead a life of piety with assiduous frequentation of the Sacraments; for without those supernatural resources no apostle has or ever will achieve anything.

Christus heri et hodie, initium et finis, alpha et omega, ipsius sunt tempora et saecula, ipsi gloria et imperium, per universa aeternitatis saecula”(from the liturgy of the Paschal Vigil). “Christ yesterday and today, beginning and end, alpha and omega. His are the times and centuries, glory and empire to Him unto the ages of ages.” This is the great truth without which neither individuals nor nations will find, in this life, the true way to a Christian temporal order and eternal salvation.

Barcelona, May 20, 1993

The Dukes of Maqueda

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