The Counter-Revolution and the Craving After Novelties

February 6, 2020



The tendency of so many of our contemporaries, children of the Revolution, is to unrestrictedly love the present, adore the future, and unconditionally consign the past to scorn and hatred. This tendency gives rise to a series of misunderstandings about the Counter-Revolution that should be brought to an end. Above all, it seems to many that the traditionalist and conservative character of the Counter-Revolution renders it a born enemy of human progress.

1. The Counter-Revolution Is Traditionalist
A. Reason

As we have seen, the Counter-Revolution is an effort developed in terms of the Revolution. The Revolution constantly turns against a whole legacy of Christian institutions, doctrines, customs, and ways of being, feeling, and thinking that we received from our forefathers and that are not yet completely abolished. The Counter-Revolution is therefore the defender of Christian traditions.

Strangler Fig, wrapping itself around another tree.

B. The Smoking Wick

The Revolution attacks Christian civilization in a manner that is more or less like that of a certain tree of the Brazilian forest. This tree, the strangler fig Urostigma olearia, by wrapping itself around the trunk of another tree, completely covers it and kills it. In its “moderate” and low-velocity currents, the Revolution approached Christian civilization in order to wrap itself around it and kill it. We are in a period in which this strange phenomenon of destruction is still incomplete. In other words, we are in a hybrid situation wherein what we would almost call the mortal remains of Christian civilization, and the aroma and remote action of many traditions only recently abolished yet still somehow alive in the memory of man, coexist with many revolutionary institutions and customs.

Faced with the struggle between a splendid Christian tradition in which life still stirs and a revolutionary action inspired by the mania for novelties to which Leo XIII referred in the opening words to the encyclical Rerum Novarum, it is only natural that the true counter-revolutionary be a born defender of the treasury of good traditions, for these are the values of the Christian past that remain and must be saved. In this sense, the counter-revolutionary acts like Our Lord, Who did not come to extinguish the smoking wick nor to break the bruised reed.39 Therefore, he must lovingly try to save all these Christian traditions. A counter-revolutionary action is, essentially, a traditionalist action.

C. False Traditionalism

The traditionalist spirit of the Counter-Revolution has nothing in common with a false and narrow traditionalism, which conserves certain rites, styles, or customs merely out of love for old forms and without any appreciation for the doctrine that gave rise to them. This would be archaeologism, not a sound and living traditionalism.

2. The Counter-Revolution is Conservative

Is the Counter-Revolution conservative? In one sense, it is, and profoundly so. And in another sense, it is not, and also profoundly so.

If it is a question of conserving something of the present that is good and deserves to live, the Counter-Revolution is conservative.

A “contemporary” stained glass windows that was installed in the Medieval Cathedral of Nevers.

But if it is a question of perpetuating the hybrid situation in which we find ourselves, of keeping the revolutionary process at its present stage, while remaining immobile like a statue of salt, on the sidelines of history and of time, embracing alike what is good and evil in our century, thus seeking a perpetual and harmonious coexistence of good and evil, then, the Counter-Revolution neither is nor can be conservative.

3. The Counter-Revolution Is An Essential Condition for Authentic Progress

Does the Counter-Revolution favor progress? Yes, if the progress is authentic. No, if it is the march toward the revolutionary utopia.

One of several crowns that are suspended above the streets for Christmas time at Zona Rosa in Kansas City, Missouri.

In its material aspect, genuine progress consists in the rightful use of the forces of nature according to the law of God, for the service of man. For this reason, the Counter-Revolution makes no pacts with today’s hypertrophied technicalism, with its adoration of novelties, speed, and machines, nor with the deplorable tendency to organize human society mechanistically. These are excesses that Pius XII condemned profoundly and precisely.40

Nor is the material progress of a people the main element of progress in Christian understanding. The latter lies above all in the full development of the powers of the soul and the ascent of mankind toward moral perfection. Thus, a counter-revolutionary conception of progress supposes the prevalence of spiritual values over material considerations. Accordingly, it is proper to the Counter-Revolution to promote, among individuals and the multitudes, a far greater esteem for all that has to do with true religion, philosophy, art, and literature than for what has to do with the good of the body and the exploitation of matter.

Finally, to clearly differentiate between the revolutionary and counter-revolutionary concepts of progress, it is necessary to note that the counter-revolutionary takes into account that the world will always be a valley of tears and a passageway to heaven, while the revolutionary considers that progress should make the earth a paradise in which man lives happily with no thought of eternity.

From the very notion of rightful progress, one can see that the revolutionary process is its contrary.

Thus, the Counter-Revolution is an essential condition for the preservation of the normal development of authentic progress and the defeat of the revolutionary utopia, which has only a facade of progress.


Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira, Revolution and Counter-Revolution(York, Penn.: The American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family, and Property, 1993), Part II, Ch. III, pp. 77-80. rcr-p2-chap3

39. Cf. Matt. 12:20.

40 Cf. Christmas broadcast, 1957, in Yzermans, The Major Addresses of Pope Pius XII, vol. 2, p. 233.



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