Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira
"A Fool is the Devil's steed"
January 15th 1976
— What exactly is an anti-communist? This is a question which appears to be so simple of resolution as to border on being foolish. However, there are different ways in which it may be answered. If we consider only the two most common responses to it being given nowadays, we should see that they both contain a world of nuances of the greatest importance. If we fail to grasp these shades of meaning, we will understand nothing about international politics as it is presently developing. Worse yet, we will allow ourselves to be deceived by Communism. And this is exactly what is happening to a vast number of our contemporaries.
It is, then, indispensable for us to know how to answer this question.
* * *
The Yalta Treaty which was signed immediately after World War II was quite rightly considered by all anti-communists to be an aberration. It consecrated the imperialist expansion of Russia de facto — the expansion which later the unhappy Helsinki Agreement would consecrate de jure.
Until Yalta, it was customary for an anti-communist to define himself as an opponent of Marxist philosophy, as well as of the politico-social and economic program which flowed from it. Since Moscow was the Red Mecca from which the tentacles of Communist propaganda extended all over the world, the opponents of Communism were understandably also adversaries of Moscow.
And Yalta, which had consecrated de facto Moscow's expansion in Eastern Europe, provided an additional basis for this opposition. In other words, it gave anti-communists a few more reasons for being "anti."
Russian dominion over Eastern Europe brought in its wake the imposition of the Communist regime in the satellite nations. Obviously, this extension of Communism could only be considered with execration by anti-communists. But the crime had other aspects as well, for sovereign nations had been enslaved by Russian imperialism. Accordingly, anti-communists in the post-Yalta period began to decry the Russian conquest of Eastern Europe, for precisely the same reason that Europeans of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries had become indignant over the partition of Poland between Russian, Austrian, and Prussian crowns. In short, there was an outcry against Russia which had nothing to do with Communism as such but which was inspired by the law of nations, as in the case of the analogous attitude against Czarist Russia just mentioned.
If only the subjugated peoples had been consulted in all honesty and freedom, according to the generally accepted forms of plebiscite, as to whether or not they accepted Russian domination... and if they had answered favorably! But they had been subjugated by, and continue to be subjugated by force.
Thus, anti-communists concluded with more fire than ever that, without doubt, there is no possible way of getting along with Communism. Towards it, only two attitudes are possible: fight or surrender. And the fight was taken up more tenaciously than ever.
* * *
At that stage, the concept of anti-communism was still clear. Who would have then predicted that Communist propaganda would have the diabolical cleverness to draw from that situation an opportunity to "shuffle" the minds of innumerable anti-communists, thus taking the first step on a long road of ambiguities which would lead us to the present miserable situation?
But that is what happened.
Until that moment, if one were to have asked an anti-communist if he was anti-czarist, he might very possibly have answered: no. In the case of a yes answer, he would have emphasized that he was not opposed to Czarism as an anti-communist but as a Democrat. There were democratic and non-democratic anti-communists. That profound difference between them did not prevent either the former or the latter from being anti-communist.
Obviously, for democratic anti-communists, the despotic character of the Soviet regime provided a preferred argument in their anti-red polemics. It is perfectly understandable that such an argument should have achieved great tactical success in the nations of the West, profoundly imbued as they are with the democratic spirit.
The success obtained through this approach led many personalities in the West to repeat with increasing frequency the democratic accusations against Communism in interviews and in declarations to the press, radio, and television. And this same procedure was employed by important anti-communist organizations. Thus, little by little the immense anti-communist murmur that had spread all over the world changed its "leitmotif." The defense of tradition, family, and property (three values which Communism crushes) was relegated more and more to a secondary level. And the main reason for opposing Communism — which gradually became the only argument of the great anti-communist offensive — consisted in the fact that the Communist regime is anti-democratic.
This division between the two lines of anti-communist argumentation, that is, the older one based on tradition, family, and property and the new one which rests merely on democratic principles, was contradictory and perfectly artificial.
This is so because any democratic minded person, to the extent that he opposes tradition and favors abolishing the family and private property, sinks into the most complete totalitarianism — that is to say into the exact opposite of what he understands by democracy.
This new conception of anti-communism had a kind of world-wide glorification when the late President Kennedy, speaking in Berlin, proclaimed that his only reason for opposing Communism was the regime behind the Iron Curtain was not based on free elections. Presumably an identical regime arrived at by democratic procedures would not have been objectionable to him. Thus it was that the head of the greatest temporal power in the west enshrined a new meaning, an empty meaning, of anticommunism. Faithful to Rousseau's pagan doctrine of the absolute sovereignty of the people, Kennedy affirmed by this declaration that the majority could practice every abuse against the minority and could deny them all of their natural rights even by imposing on them the most despotic and unjust of regimes.
In addition, Kennedy's statement is an indication that the political mentalities of many anti-communists had already undergone a gradual modification, a change which subsequently has been broadened and deepened. Although I do not have in my hands absolutely irrefutable documentary proofs that this somehow occurred as a result of Communist policy, as far as I am concerned I have no doubt that Communism is at the root of this transformation, since it has made such prodigious gains through it. For in this matter the principle holds that everything giving an advantage to Communism has presumably or certainly been brought about by the Communists.
* * *
Through the passing of decades we have arrived at the final outcome of the drama. After having profoundly intoxicated anti-communist circles with the principle that they are nothing more than democrats a la Rousseau, the Communists are making their great decisive play for the conquest of Western Europe.
The two main Communist Parties on this side of the Iron Curtain are those of France and Italy.
Both of these Communist Parties are carrying out a policy aimed at persuading non-communist opinion that they are really democratic. In this way, they hope to win the approval of the democratic parties of the center so as to be able to form coalition governments that will include Communists at the cabinet level.
As we know very well, from the moment that some cabinet level posts are granted to the Communists, they come to be the strong men of the government, and the total conquest of power by the Communists is irreversible.
Read the newspapers of our days. Right now in France a movie is being shown which describes Soviet concentration camps. The Communist Parties of both France and Italy are protesting, alleging that they are against this method of dictatorial repression. Both of them are ostentatiously repudiating the conquest of power by force, and are affirming quite clearly that they hope to achieve their coveted triumph only by means of free elections. Both parties decry Russian hegemony over the satellite countries, and proclaim their resolution to preserve national sovereignty if they should rise to power.
This being the case, what reason does a Rousseauean anti-communist have to oppose the rise to power of such Rousseauean anti-communist? None.
Thus, the gradual evolution of the adjective "anti-communist" from its pristine, substantial, and definite meaning to the sense in which it is so often understood now, is on the verge of furnishing tactical advantages to the Communists which may be decisive for the conquest of Western Europe.
* * *
Today, innumerable authentic European anti-communists are allowing themselves to be hoodwinked by a clever propagandistic maneuver that has transformed them from militant anti-communists into foolish and innocuous non-communists. It is on their backs that the Communist Parties of France and Italy hope to ride into power.
"A fool is the devil's steed," says an old proverb. How right it is!
Note: The preceding article has been translated and adapted without the author’s revision.