TABLEAUX – EXPLOSIONS
Professor Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira (*)
A friend recently arrived from Paris told me he had seen a
The plot was not taken from literary fiction, but from
a phase in the history of France. Scenes
from the frantic, filthy and bloody debacle of the Terror were represented on
the stage with the most rigorously authentic costumes of the period.
Whenever an episode outstanding for its historical
importance or its poignantly dramatic character was being played, the actors
would, at a certain point, pause — "faisant
tableau". That is, making a static but living scene.
This dramatic device corresponds perfectly to the way
the mind of every lucid spectator works. Such a person is not consumed with
haste to reach the end of the story, but he knows how to gather every pearl,
every flower, every ray of light and every stream of darkness as the plot
develops. To "gather" is to fix one's attention, pause, analize and — without a supreme delight! to
So, an historical play that pauses from time to time
like a living picture, appears to me to be profoundly psychological.
The reader is going to ask me what this has to do with
my topic today. No matter whether he agrees with me, disagrees with me, or
finds himself in that typical mixture of agreement and disagreement that is
the brackish muck of modern indecisiveness, he will still ask.
Let me explain. Just a little while ago, world events
were unfolding in that mixture of drowsiness, moans, laughs and howls so
typical of modern chaos.
For example, Spain was
bitterly divided between those for and against divorce. The Cabinet had fallen.
A rather colorful coup d'etat had shaken the country.
Was it the emerging tip of a great iceberg of discontent? Or was it a joint
effort of a Don Quixote in Madrid
and a Sancho Panza in Valencia? Nobody
knows. The coup was foiled. Nothing more was heard of the polemics over
divorce, nor of politics, for that matter. In the minds of the people, like
living tableaux, there remained only the scenes of the hero — or the Quixote —
breaking into the Cortes to arrest
the members of the government and later dramatically surrendering to the
It was the same thing with Poland. Just
yesterday John Paul II was receiving the labor leader Walesa in the Consistory
Hall and conferring on him in a most solemn and impressive way a real
commission to direct Catholic opinion in his country. One would have said that
a great plan was being traced out and that an important event or rather, a
whole series of them, was going to burst onto the
Walesa returns to Warsaw and everything goes on as
before. That is, the same tensions and the same showy clashes brought about by
secondary matters continue between the government on
the one hand, and the front made up of Cardinal Wyszinski and Walesa on the
other. As usual, right after the clash there is a suspense.
It looks like the worst is going to happen. But behold, an unexpected formula
is found that leads both sides to a dialogue. And this, in turn, finally leads
to a middle-of-the-road solution. Thesions relax,
there is a general relief. Praise is lavished on the government's prudence,
Walesa's agile firmness, and the tact of Cardinal Wyszinski, already celebrated
a thousand times over. A few days later the same process starts up again about
another matter of the same importance; just one detail is new. According to the
Polish Army paper Zolnierz Wolnosci some Catholic priests affirm that
there is a betrayal on the part of Cardinal Wyszinski, who is playing this game
in complicity with the communists (cf. O Globo, 3-4-81).
Is this an invention? Of the communist newspaper? Of the priests? The exhausted public no longer follows the
events very much. As a living tableau, there remains in its memory only the
scene in the sumptuous and sacral Consistory Hall with John Paul II, in the
presence of a limited public and TV cameras, giving guidelines as Walesa
protests his obedience to him.
More recently, the communist parties gather in Moscow for their latest world
congress. Giancarlo Pajetta, secretary general of the
Italian Communist Party, the largest one in the West (with a markedly eurocommunist tendency) has his speech prepared to be read
in the plenary. His speech contains attacks on the Russian policy toward Afghanistan and the
European crisis and demands autonomy for the non-Russian CPs.
The censors consider Pajetta's harangue heterodox and
forbid him to read it before the congress. As a consolation, they allow him to
speak to a union meeting. How many people were present? How many of them
belonged to the KGB? The dispatches don't say.
The only thing left in the memory of the public is a
living tableau of a Soviet agent of dynossauric features
returning Pajetta's speech and shouting "nyet!" Head down, an intimidated Pajetta
takes his text back.
Another much less emphasized and less noticed report
comes out. It is that the red propaganda is doing all it can to spread the news
of this episode with Pajetta hoping that many
readers, persuaded of the incompatibility between the Kremlin and Eurocommunism, will be attracted to the Italian Communist
Party. Was this incident in Moscow
nothing more than a show, a kind of a living tableau to influence the Italian
elections? It seems so.
I am abstaining from commenting on the tableaux and
suspense on the Brazilian scene: The drowsy workers' agitation in the ABC area
of Sao Paulo and elsewhere; the Basic Christian Communities, which appear to be
less aggressive than they were up until recently; the National Conference of
Bishops of Brazil, which spent all of 1980 agitating the country with its land
reform and its threats of urban reform, and that now, after its 1981 meeting,
comes out with a sleepy commentary on the country's present situation.
So many things seem to have become more or less
stagnated. Only here and there one sees mysterious flare-ups. In Ceará — where there have been unfortunate but likeable
populations that have suffered in times of drought — small groups are beginning
to make mini social revolutions. Why is this? Are there professional agitators
there? It seems that the agitation is spilling over into the States of Bahia,
Piaui, Paraiba, and
elsewhere, tending to form living tableaux.
Will other living tableaux have begun to form around
the world by the time this article comes out? Will some of those already
existing be once again set in motion? At times immobility gives rise not to
normal movements, but to explosions.
“Folha de S. Paulo”, 13th March 1981