Written by Kathy Clubb

Dr. Plinio Corrêa de Oliviera was the founder of the Brazilian Society for the Defence of Tradition, Family and Property (TFP). His classic book, Revolution and Counter-Revolution was written in 1959 and was remarkably prescient in his description of the challenges which would one day face the Church.

In his book, Corrêa de Oliviera explained the characteristics of three ‘revolutions’ that threatened the order of the world: the Protestant Reformation, the French Revolution, and Communism. And he identified Freemasonry as the prime mover of revolutionary thought since its metamorphosis into an anti-Christian force.

Until recent times, Corrêa de Oliviera’s prediction of a future iteration of The Revolution – the anti-Christian movement against which the Church has had to fight in every age – suggested little that would be taken literally. But with the Amazon synod looming, and its preparatory document, the Instrumentem Laboris, indicating our ecclesial elites’ preference for paganism, heresy and even apostasy[1], an accurate picture of the Fourth Revolution is coming into focus. What Dr. Corrêa de Oliviera only sketched is rapidly being fleshed out and coloured, and the resulting masterpiece is not at all pleasant to behold.

In his 1977 addition to the book, he predicted that the arena for the struggle between order and anti-order would leave the realm of society and move into the Church herself. As well as threats to doctrine, he predicted that high culture, one of the Church’s greatest gifts to the world, was poised to be replaced by a culture of ignorance, superstition and paganism – those dangerous elements which have found their way into the Amazon Synod’s Instrumentum Laboris.

Savage thought

Corrêa de Oliviera wrote of a world in which individual thought is replaced by collectivism, guided by leaders who are akin to witchdoctors. These leaders act as a conduit for Gnostic ‘knowledge’ that takes the place of logical thinking and maintains order among a society of ignorant sheep.

“ In tribes, the cohesion among the members is assured mainly by a way of thinking and feeling common to all, from which result common habits and a common will. Individual reason is reduced to almost nothing, in other words, to the first and most elementary movements that this atrophied state permits. “Savage thought,”[2] the thought that does not think and is turned only to what is concrete – such is the price of the tribal collectivist fusion. It belongs to the witch doctor to maintain, on a mystical level, this collective psychic life by means of totemic cults charged with confused “messages” but rich in the ignes fatui[3] or even fulgurations emanating from the mysterious worlds of transpsychology or parapsychology. By acquiring these “riches”, man would compensate for the atrophy of reason.”

Glamorisation of the Noble Savage is one of the elements of the Instrumentum Laboris which  has raised criticism from orthodox Catholics. As Venezuelan Cardinal Jorje Urosa Savino wrote, “This is a very optimistic anthropological vision, yet, it is far from the very realistic Catholic anthropology, with its biblical and Christian view of man, definitely the image and likeness of God, but wounded by sin and in need of redemption.”[4]

“In this collectivism, the various “I’s” or the individual persons, with their intelligence, will, and sensibility, and consequently with their characteristic and conflictual ways of being merge and dissolve in the collective personality of the tribe, which generates one thought, one will, and one style of being intensely common to all.

“Of course, the road to this tribal state of things must pass through the extinction of the old standards of individual reflection, volition, and sensibility. These will be gradually replaced by forms of thought, deliberation, and sensibility that are increasingly collective. It is, therefore, principally in this field that the transformation must take place.”

In modern society, this collective mentality is obvious in the polarisation of its members, who cling to dichotomies such as left vs right and tolerant vs the ‘bigots’, and is expressed through the associated identity politics. Any member of an identity group who dares to question one of its tenets, or fails to completely espouse some doctrine is immediately excommunicated from the group. A recent example springs to mind: the newly-appointed head of abortion empire Planned Parenthood was expelled because she failed to embrace abortion to the degree expected by its rulers.

This tribalism has entered the Church, and She finds herself in the situation where two ‘tribes’ are emerging – a progressive group and an orthodox one – and where the threat of schism is looming. Media reports and online conversations make this tribal mentality quite clear as challenges to one group’s cherished beliefs are met with insults, slander and accusations of pride or heresy.

Structuralism

Plinio Corrêa de Oliviera was highly critical of the structuralist movement which holds that all  human activity, including thought itself, is not natural but constructed. Structuralism can be thought of as ‘quintessential subjectivism’[5], and structuralists believe a given topic can be understood only through the structure of its relationships. The main proponent of structuralism was Claude Levi Strauss. An associate of Jean-Paul Sartre, Strauss left his native France to live and study among Amazonian tribes in Brazil.

Plinio Corrêa de Oliviera equated the Fourth revolution with structuralism and identified several tendencies among Westerners as ‘pre-tribal’ developments. One of these was an increasing acceptance for immodest clothing – semi-nudism is a common denominator of tribal cultures, except where the climate demands warmer dress.

Another indicator of pre-tribalism is the loss of common courtesy. This phenomenon has been noted by older generations who decry the loss of manners and thoughfulness among the young; there is no need to remind the reader of the tendency for sales assistants to prioritise social media notifications on their mobile phones above their (paid) work of attending to customers.

Dr. Corrêa de Oliviera noted the pre-tribal tendency of men and women to avoid the effort of reasoned thought and associated this with the phenomenon of the cult of the image, as evinced by Pope Paul VI.

“The growing dislike for anything that is reasoned, structured, and systematised, can only lead, in its last paroxysms, to the perpetual and fanciful vagabondage of jungle life, alternating, likewise, with the instinctive and almost mechanical performance of some activities absolutely indispensable to life.

“The aversion to intellectual effort, notably to abstraction, theorisation, and doctrinal thought, can only induce, ultimately, a hypertrophy of the senses and of the imagination, resulting in the ‘civilization of the image,’ about which Pope Paul VI felt duty-bound to warn mankind.”

The Pope had stated in his encyclical, Evangelii Nuntiadi:

“We well know that modern man, overwhelmed by speeches, gives signs of being increasingly tired of listening and, worse still, of being irresponsive to words. We are also aware of the opinions of numerous psychologists and sociologists who affirm that modern man has already transcended to civilisation of the word – which has become practically inefficacious and useless – and lives today in the civilisation of the image.” [6]

It was only 1975 when Pope Paul VI wrote these words: that was long before the days of mobile phones, social media and selfies. There was then no incessant documenting of the everyday lives of millions of anxious people which is so evident in the 21st century.

So even 40 years ago, people were losing the ability and the desire to use their intellect, seduced, as they were, by magazines and movies, by advertising and all its empty promises. Emotion and materialism had already begun their work of replacing deep thought and self-sacrifice: these days, they are aided by charismatic-style worship on the spiritual plane and contraception and abortion on the practical level, as well as the unabating demands of the online world.

The ‘civilisation of the image’ presents itself in the Church via celebrity popes, priests and bishops who wield enormous influence that admittedly has the potential to reap a good harvest. Sadly, this is often not the case, though, as countless Catholics can be led astray by the latest emotional ‘doctrine’ which effectively poisons the cup of clear teaching.

The Fourth Revolution and Religion

There is no doubt that satanism, witchcraft and paganism have become mainstream in tandem with the Church’s loss of influence, and Dr de Oliveira correctly predicted the rise of the occult, riding on the wave of the Fourth Revolution. These influences have found their way into the Church in the form of enneagrams, labyrinth gardens and mindfulness; one of the most concerning inclusions in the Amazon synod’s working document is the suggestion that pagan rituals be melded with Catholic ones.

He also indicated that there are those within the Church who deny the existence of hell, and indeed, it is alarming when someone as prominent and influential as the Jesuit superior general, Fr. Arturo Sosa, SJ, says that “the devil exists as a symbolic reality, not as a personal reality.”[7]

“Omnes dii gentium daemonia” (“All of the gods of the gentiles are devils”), says the Scripture[8]. In this structuralist perspective, in which magic is presented as a form of knowledge, to what degree may a Catholic perceive the deceitful flashes, the canticle (at once sinister and attractive, soothing and delirious, atheistic and fetishistically credulous) with which, from the bottom of the abysses where he lies eternally, the Prince of Darkness attracts those who have denied Jesus Christ and His Church?

“This is the question that theologians can and should discuss. We mean the real theologians, that is, the few who still believe in the existence of the devil and hell, especially the few among these few who have the courage to face the scorn and persecution of the mass media and to speak out.”

Plinio Corrêa de Oliviera also predicted a kind of “ecclesiastical tribalism”, in which Catholicism’s reliable, rigid structure was replaced by a malleable collaboration dominated by “Pentcostalist prophets”, whom he claimed would one day be “indistinguishable from witch doctors.” In his 1992 remarks, Corrêa de Oliviera voiced his concerns over the Church’s emerging reliance on collegiality which could lead to an ‘inversion of the pyramid’, such as we hear being lauded today. Indeed, his insights surmise very well the path being taken by Australia’s plenary Council organisers which over-emphasises the role of the laity:

“In keeping with the dreams of the advocates of tribalism, it could eventually result in an indefensible dependence of the whole hierarchy on the laity, as supposedly the only voice of God.”

With the synod approaching, and portending to be an earth-shattering, doctrine-wrecking event, it seems that Plinio’s prophecies have come full circle. This intellectual giant hailed from the Amazonian neighbourhood of Brazil. Levi-Strauss, who brought the world the ideology of structuralism, developed his ideas among natives of the Amazon forest. And, now with the obvious flaws inherent in the Pan-Amazon Synod’s working document, some members of the Church seem intent on not only embracing the Fourth Revolution, but on driving it.

[1] https://catholicherald.co.uk/news/2019/09/05/burke-and-brandmuller-amazon-synod-challenges-deposit-of-faith/
[2] Cf Claude Levy-Strauss, La Pensee Sauvage (Paris: Plon, 1969)
[3] A will-o’-the-wisp
[4] http://www.ncregister.com/daily-news/venezuela-cardinal-what-the-pan-amazon-synod-working-document-gets-right-wr
[5] https://www.traditioninaction.org/HotTopics/j038ht_Structuralism.html
[6] Evangelii nuntiadi, December 8th, 1975.
[7] https://www.catholicworldreport.com/2019/08/23/exorcists-to-jesuit-head-satan-is-real/
[8] Psalm 95:5

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