How to study and assimilate the contents of “Revolution and Counter-Revolution”?

by Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira

Saint of the Day – March 31, 1966


“A Roman and Apostolic Catholic, the author of this text submits himself with filial devotion to the traditional teaching of Holy Church. However, if by an oversight anything is found in it at variance with that teaching, he immediately and categorically rejects it.”

 The words “Revolution” and “Counter-Revolution” are employed here in the sense given to them by Prof. Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira in his book Revolution and Counter-Revolution, the first edition of which was published in the monthly Catolicismo, Nº 100, April 1959.



Today, the 31st, is the feast of Blessed Bonaventure Tornielli, Confessor, from the Order of the Servants of Mary. His relic is venerated in our chapel.

Question: “What should be the attitude of persons wishing to study and assimilate the contents of the work, Revolution and Counter-Revolution (RCR)?

I have the impression there are two things here, one from the intelligence and the other from the will, to consider on the natural plane. Of course, on the supernatural plane our full compenetration with RCR depends on devotion to Our Lady so we can obtain graces for that. For as we will see below, the RCR is, in its own way, a treatise of the love of God. And in the final analysis, this treatise on the love of God leads to the love of God. And the love of God is a supernatural gift that we cannot obtain except with graces from the Holy Ghost and through prayer and the sacraments, supernatural means.

However, from the natural point of view we can say something about this matter. I believe that on the plane of intelligence one should say this: take a room here, for example. This room. One can say many things about this room. One can say its walls are green, it has such and such size, height etc. and then describe its chairs, windows, tables, floor, ceiling, illumination etc.

But a person who wants to understand the room should not only form an opinion about each of the elements that compose it. He should form an opinion of the ensemble called room. For the room is an ensemble. In current language, room is not only the walls but the ensemble with the whole decoration and ambience of the room. So, he who understands this ensemble called room and is able to make a judgment about the ensemble called room, he has understood what room is.

Well then, the same thing happens with the universe. If you will, the universe is a huge room, an immense room made by God for mankind to live in. And he who wants to understand the universe should not have a little opinion about a star, then about an ant, then about a man, then about a factory smokestack and then about an automobile brand. Instead of contenting himself with fragmentary opinions, he needs to have an overall opinion and thought on this whole ensemble of things that is called universe.

And this opinion should not refer more closely to the ensemble called universe, but to something closer to us which is the universe of man, humanity properly speaking, this world with mankind living in it, man’s life on earth with all the rules that it obeys, the conditions it offers man, and its origin and ultimate end. This is something that man needs to understand, if he wants to understand anything. He needs to have a notion of the ensemble of men living on earth, a notion of the ensemble of all aspects of men living on this earth: this is the notion that makes us understand everything. And all things are comprehensible only when they start out from here, otherwise they are incomprehensible.

Imagine, for example, Helena Keller. You have probably heard about her. I had never heard of her until Dr. Arnaldo raised the subject in one of his lectures. This is a tremendous thing, as that lady – an American, if I’m not mistaken – was born blind and deaf, so that to communicate with the outside world she only had her sense of touch.

And then she tells of her joy when she was first able, through touch, to make contact with someone outside. And through one thing and the other, through her touch she gradually formed a notion of the ensemble of what this world is like, a world from which she is almost totally segregated. And she acquired such a notion of the ensemble that she gave a lecture here at Teatro Municipal, where she was led to the platform and then gave a complete lecture. And it was a lecture of one who had an entire knowledge of the outside world.

In other words, she had a notion of the ensemble, a notion of what things are like, how they concatenate, and not merely a fragmentary notion. Imagine, now, that someone had managed to give her the notion of an ant. And then the notion of water, and then the notion of tenderness. She would keep only these three notions in her head: water, ant, tenderness. With that, a person not crazy like her could become so. Why have only these notions, water, ant, and tenderness? What to do with these notions? After having tried to deal with this for a while, if she were a more or less logical person she would plunge into madness.

It so happens that many people spend life with a bunch of notions on waters, ants and tendernesses. But they do not have a notion of life as an ensemble and do not understand a certain axis of notions around which life is structured. And because of this, they are persons whose life is spent with emergencies and vicissitudes, crises, problems, and anguishes, manifestations of madness, discouragement, depression, or foolish enthusiasm. Why? Because they lack this notion of the ensemble, of making these things fit together in a comprehensible way so that one is also able to understand oneself.

Now this view of ensemble, this appetite for a view of the ensemble from its highest aspects, is called the virtue of wisdom. It is the virtue whereby the person seeks to have an architectonic knowledge of everything and an architectonic knowledge of self. And, naturally, as the most profound knowledge is known best from the highest point, such persons seek to rise to God, to the trans-terrestrial, the metaphysical and not only the physical, beyond the physical and material, in order to have an idea of things.

In other words, one should not be content with fragmentary aspects of life but seek to have a wise, sapiential spirit whereby one understands the vital need – just as the air of my lungs is necessary for my thought – for learning to have a notion of the ensemble of things to explain everything and to explain myself and to give my life an orientation. Understanding this and waking up to the need for wisdom, as far as I am concerned, is a fundamental condition for a person to really delve into RCR and into all other things. In other words, without this basis, this backdrop, there is no possibility for the person to become imbued with the RCR.

What is the opposite of this? It is a certain type of person to whom I ask: So and so, do you have a happy life? He says: I do. Why? “Ah, didn’t you know? First, because I have a shaver. Then, because I am buying a small car in installments. Then, my mother, my brothers and folks, we all live very well at home, they all get along with me. They even like the Group. Well, and then I have a good job and good health, so I’m happy.”

This is the opposite of wisdom. It is pure animal suction of happiness, a senseless suction of a soul without nobility who turns enjoyment into its end. Not  dishonest enjoyment, as it may not be sinful; but there is some reason of sin in his entire indifference for the rest. I do not care to know where I came from or where I’m going as long as I have this joy of living in a kind of pink cloud, eternally sucking from the bottle of happiness.

If we were to satisfy the longings of this kind of people – I think I said this in a meeting here – it would be like this: we would give them a pink cloud where they could sit for five hundred years sucking on a bottle, five hundred years without tiring or being bored, with an ever new pleasure and in a kind of always pleasant daydream. At the end of five hundred years they would put the bottle aside and say: I want more. And they would go on.

This is precisely the kind of people whose soul does not tend toward God. And when we have to talk to them about Revolution, Counter-Revolution or problems, fights, and the Cause, it is an extremely difficult thing to do. Why? Because they only think and worry about themselves. And when one has to speak to them about duty, about the Cause, they ask: “How is that?  Of course, the Revolution, the Counter-Revolution…” It sounds hollow because they only bother with their shaver, their slippers and their nicely arranged little home. To them, any metaphysical preoccupation is nothing.

Now, how can we imagine that someone like that indeed loves God and is loved by Him? Because these people love only themselves and nothing but themselves. At great cost do they find a little corner for God in their souls and defend it tooth and nail. They say their rosary, meditate and go to communion, all to obtain a little bit of interest in the things of God. The rest is themselves. In other words, God has a kind of enclave, a kind of drop incrusted in their soul, but no more than that. And so many souls do not have even that.

So, there are souls to whom wisdom is something superficial and hollow, unworthy of attention. They like to read a magazine, watch TV, think about their own slippers, shaver, little car, reading sports new etc., this is where their attention naturally turns. Only with at great cost can they can pay attention on other things.

Now, a rule which does not fail is this: tell me where your attention turns, and I’ll tell you who you are. If your attention spontaneously turns to these things and only switches to wisdom with great difficulty, I cannot say that you are a wise man. Now, a Catholic man is a man gifted with wisdom par excellence. He thus has a position of soul detached from the sweet little life, a tendency to concerns of a higher nature, and this is what really forms the substratum of the virtue of wisdom and leads us to the love of God. In the final analysis, the love of God is the son of wisdom.

Well, I wound up talking about the intelligence and the will. You see that the intelligence must look for this paramount good; and the will must love this good more than all others. The Maccabeus had a beautiful phrase when they rose against the Jews. They said something like: “It is better to die than to live in a land devastated and without honor.” To them, the superior goods of this life: the honor of one’s country, good order according to the higher principles of earthly life – and thus an honorable country – was the land organized according to God’s law; that was worth more than life. And if they had to lose their life, it was better to lose it, for it was not worth living in those conditions.

On the contrary, the man sucking his bottle on the pink cloud is different. He likes this earth even without honor. And when you talk to him about combating, he asks: “Uhh! Combating? Explain to me a little why I should die for God.” It is an uphill struggle to make him have ten minutes of heroism. Why? Because he is centered on something else; his will does not adhere to sapiential goods but to contingent, small, concrete goods. Doctrine means nothing to him, spirit means nothing to him, and an explanation tells him nothing. Only meaningful to him are things having to do with matter, the body, and to watch, as in a movie, the unintelligent unfolding of events in life. Obviously, in these conditions a person cannot become imbued with RCR.

Now, how to acquire that wisdom? A person who has a first tendency toward this wisdom finds in RCR precisely the living means to acquire the virtue of wisdom. For the RCR explains the depth of the events of our time. It explains what the dominant event is, next to which no other event is important, and to which all facts concur in a positive or negative way.

There is a heretical sect. This sect is Gnostic. This sect works to impose on mankind a human type and a kind of life opposed to the laws that God established in the universe. These laws are the image of God, and Gnosis seeks to build the contrary of the image of God.  It seeks to make the universe as dissimilar to God as possible. And the living trait of Gnosis is egalitarianism. Everybody is equal, every difference is bad, and every hierarchy a crime and an injustice.

On the contrary, the Church teaches that every hierarchy is a condition for God to be reflected and there would be no other possibility to manifest resemblance with God except through the hierarchy that He placed in the world. Result: this is where we have a live struggle. Everything that goes on around us is in favor of equality or inequality; of sacrality or secularism; of faith or interconfessionalism.

The RCR explains all this to us. And all this gives us the underlying explanation for everything that happens in our time. And deep down, it gives us an explanation of the universe itself. So, if we are sapiential souls, on studying the RCR and on reading and analyzing the things of the universe through these eyes, we develop wisdom in us. Wisdom is precisely a first movement that leads us to study RCR.

And a well studied RCR increases wisdom in us. And in this way, wisdom gives us the love of God.