Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira
The Mediocre and the "Mediocrats"
Folha de S. Paulo, June 20th 1981
It was to France's center and right that I directed the questions, or rather, objurgatory interrogations of my last article. Note that it was written before the first round of elections to the legislature.
However, I wasn't thinking indiscriminately of all those who make up these currents. The centrists and rightists who were responsible for the Mitterrand catastrophe constitute a large family of souls made up almost exclusively of mediocrities gathered in a doctrinal context that is vaguely "non communist" but that avoids the adjective "anticommunist." My reproaches were thus specifically directed to the mediocre of the center and the right, including those who, though not voting for Mitterrand, were weak, soft, and careless in the pre-electoral fight.
Here I distinguish between the mediocre and the average. A person his just as much right to be average as he does to be born with abundant, or merely sufficient, personal qualities.
Mediocrity is the evil of those who, completely absorbed by the pleasures of laziness and taking delight only in whatever is within reach of their hands, totally confining themselves to the immediate, make stagnation the normal condition of their existences. They don't look back: they lack historical sense. Neither do they look ahead or upward: they neither analyze nor foresee. They are too lazy to abstract, to think things through, to draw conclusions, or to make conjectures. Their mental lives are reduced to the sensation of the here and now. Their little paradise doesn't go beyond the day's necessities, a comfortable easy chair, slipper and television.
It is a precarious paradise, which they attempt to protect with all kinds of insurance: life, health, fire, accident, etc.
And the more the mediocre person sees that all doors that could open to adventure, risk, splendor and therefore also to the firmaments of the Faith, the wide horizons of the abstract, the immense flights of logic and of art, to grandeur of soul, to heroism are firmly shut, the happier he is. By means of universal suffrage the mediocre have made so many laws, so many regulations, and have created so many public agencies that any superior soul's flight to escape the cubicles of this organized mediocrity is impossible. Although not intending to do so, the mediocre impose the dictatorship of mediocrity upon souls with broad horizons.
This, like all dictatorships, remains standing only by achieving a monopoly of the media. Mediocracy is penetrating newspapers, magazines, radio and television more and more.
As if all this weren't enough, ecumenism, with the indefatigable and vain prattle of its dialogue, is quite appropriately the religion of the mediocrats. It is a kind of insurance, or reassurance, for life and death, through which all religions are urged to say in unison that, regardless of which one of them they choose, men can attain for their health, their petty businesses and their security – even after death – a good relationship with God. In this perspective, it appears that God is indifferent to what religion a man follows. You can even blaspheme Him and persecute Him. You can even deny Him. He is indifferent to all of men's actions. Olympically indifferent. Ecumenically indifferent, just as the mediocre, in their turn whether they have a Crucifix, some china or ceramic Buddha, or some amulet where they sleep or work are olympically indifferent to God.
In the relativistic atmosphere of the mediocratic, cubicular paradises God is a being as the Italian saying goes "con il quale o senza il quale, il mondo va tale quale" (with whom, or without whom, the world stays the same).
Also is this perspective, God would pay men in the same coin. One could say that humanity is, for Him, an anthill (or a nest of vipers?) "con il quale o senza il quale, Iddio (God) va tale quale."
Mediocracy and religious indifferentism, so frequent in the rights and centers not only of France, but of the whole world, are corollaries of each other. In turn, this indifferentism is nothing but a form of atheism more radical (in a certain sense) than that of conventional atheists: it is the form of atheism of those who do not take God seriously. The atheist, if he had evidence that God exists, would hate Him... or perhaps serve Him... but in any case, he would take Him seriously.
A specific type of moral deterioration corresponds to this ecumenical and relativistic atheism.
Sensuality, which is essentially atheistic, used to walk arm in arm with the most unbridled follies of luxury, the scandals of prostitution, and the dramas of crime. It was showy, theatrical, and full of unexpected incidents. It corresponded to the ululating and wide open atheism of the revolutionary masses of the late 18th and the 19th century, which vibrated to the chant of the Marseillaise," the "Ça ira," or the "Internationale."
But those songs are out of style. Perhaps some plutocrat, brought to the head of a State by propaganda, might adopt them as symbols of his government or pick one of them as his theme song for demagogic purposes.
These kinds of aberrations are the order of the day. Mitterrand, for example, has just adopted a piece of music for his government. He is no worm eaten bourgeois, but a Marxist "with it." That is why he chose the march Lully composed for the dragoons of the Marshall Duke of Noailles.
A victory for tradition? Let no one be deceived. It was an ostensive affirmation of the reigning indifferentism. All the illogicalities, all the contradictions which formerly would have come to blows at seeing each other, now stroll arm in arm under the aegis of mediocrity and indifference.
Now, the Giscard d'Estaing administration was notably the paradise of all these forms of mediocracy, supported by a sector of the electorate that wanted nothing else.
As the fight for the recent elections came up, the mediocre defended themselves in their own way: with mediocrity, without conviction, consistency, enthusiasm or impact. What else could they do but lose?
Won't the lesson at least be useful to the mediocre of other countries? I fear not. If there is one thing the mediocre don't do, it is to take advantage of their neighbors' lesson. They are short sighted by definition. Like I said, they have eyes only for today.