IN ALLENDE'S FOOTSTEPS?

 

by Professor Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira (*)

 

Amidst the general and "inexplicable" confusion of facts in the French press and in so many Brazilian newspapers, the spectacular victory of the center-right bloc over the socialist-communist bloc in the regional elections in France has finally become patent to the eyes of the world.

This victory will have its effects on two different planes.

For one thing, it will reinforce the opposition, which will now count not only on its parliamentary minority, but also on a majority of 58 (out of 95) of the country's provincial General Councils. It should be noted that at the initiative of the socialist-communist government itself (probably hopeful of an electoral victory), the power of these councils was recently increased to a considerable degree. In addition, this grave defeat of the leftist coalition hap­pened precisely when, based on the successes of 1981, it imagined it was sitting on a cliff, "master of the winds and situations" (T. S. Eliot). It now finds itself toppled by winds that it didn't know how to foresee or dominate. This defeat will necessarily alter the states of mind in the intermediary levels of decision-makers and the grassroot partisans of both the socialists and the communists. And how could it not alter them now that — inside the French Socialist and Communist Parties — the splendorous light of the 1981 victory has given way to the dying light — not so different from that of a wake — of the defeat of 1982? In an ambience thus irremediably transformed, it does not help the top leadership to try to pre­tend that everything is normal by underestimating the situation with a sober and even phlegmatic analysis of their defeat. The light has become shadow, and simply by smiling and trying to look spirited in the shadow, the masters of the house are not going to convince others that shadow is light.

This undisguisable defeat will necessarily dampen the thrust, dynamism and boldness of the left, particularly of the Socialist Party, and consequently dampen the action of the government. That is, unless the top leaderships of the Socialist and Com­munist Parties wish to make, within their own ranks, the same mistake they made in these ten months of Mitter­rand government in their behavior with the whole nation. In other words, the government has been resolutely march­ing towards the destruction of private property. The government carelessly imagined it was leading the same electorate that voted for it in 1981 clapping and nodding "yes." Then came the regional elections and the government, taken by surprise, found most of the country blocking its way and telling it "no." You can't take chances with public opinion. The Socialist and Communist Parties would make the same mistake with their own ranks by having the government decide to confront public opinion by continuing to pillage private property and thus to aggravate the discontent of the majori­ty. The intermediate officials and grassroots of the two parties would then see their political futures com­promised by a senseless adventure which, like all adventures, could easi­ly have unpredictable consequences. How far would these officials and grassroots continue to follow in the footsteps of this government of adventurers?

This is extremely doubtful, especial­ly since the thirteen TFPs demonstrated in black and white that the voting results of `81 were not due to a specific increase of leftist votes. In their recent Message entitled "What Does Self-Managing Socialism Mean for Communism: A Barrier? Or a Bridgehead?" they showed that these results were due rather to the slide of an electoral contingent of practicing Catholics into the leftist camp, a contingent calculated by the magazine Informations Catholiques Internationales at 25,% Election results were also due to the abstention of 29.67% of solidly bourgeois voters. Now, in the recent regional elections it became patent that these sectors of opinion partially escaped from the hands of the left. The bourgeoisie came out much more than it usually did in past regional elections. And everything would lead one to believe that the majority won by the center and the right was due less to a decrease in the socialist and communist camps than to the shifting Catholic contingent that, now alerted, refused to go on a new leftward slide.

One point of these observations deserves special analysis. Those who designed the 1981 slide festively part­icipated in the praising chorus at the socialist-communist victory. But sometime before the regional elections they became mute. The French episcopate, which leads the most daring "Catholic left" in Europe, became silent. No one talked about the "Catholic left" any more. Far more clever than their socialist and com­munist friends, they seemed to have perceived the error the latter fell into, and became silent. How silent, utterly silent, the "Catholic left" is now, after the defeat. It probably prefers to keep its strength intact to make more subtle and viable onslaughts in the future against all socio-economic inequalities, and therefore against private property.

As a consequence of what has been said, if the government and the top socialist-communist leaders still decide to advance, they will become more and more isolated from their own echelons — that is, with fewer friends in their rearguard and more adversaries in front. They would be marching toward an abyss. In the footsteps of Allende.

We should now go on to the second plane, that is, the repercussions of this defeat in international public opinion. But let's leave this for the next article.

 

(*) “Folha de S. Paulo”, 2nd April 1982