Theology of History
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Understanding the American Spirit

The Cowboy & the Crusader

Prof. Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira
This Questions & Answers meeting of Americans with Prof. Plinio took place on January 16, 1978, in São Paulo, Brazil. We selected two of the Qs & As that we thought would be of interest to our Readers.

Those of us who live on the American Continent – in both the North and the South – do not have the historic marvels or traditions of Europe. In a certain way, we are still blank pages in the History of the world. In Europe, the pages are filled with historic marvels.

Some of you could object that the United States is the leader of the West and, therefore, cannot be considered a nation that has not written pages in History. Something similar could be said of Brazil, which is the leader of South America. What I mean, however, is that our countries have such a potentiality that only when we arrive at the Reign of Mary will their full vocations unfold. Until then, our countries can be considered blank pages of History.

I am at your disposal to answer the questions you may have.

Question: What is the primordial light of the United States? You have spoken of the ideal of an order of chivalry for the Counter-Revolution: Does the figure of the cowboy reflect in some way this primordial light?

Answer: From what I can see from this distance, it is necessary to make a distinction between two United States.

English colonists trading with indians

The English colonist sought adventure, money, a less complicated culture and life

A colonial estate in the early United States

First, there is the U.S. originally formed by the English colonists who moved there;

Second, there is the U.S. of the later immigrations, that is, people of many different nationalities who went to the U.S. and were influenced by that first English environment.

So, there is a first primordial light and capital vice related to the English who left England and entered a New World and a second primordial light and capital vice that is an amalgamation of the former with the various characteristics of the new waves of immigrants.

An answer to your question supposes a somewhat complex explanation, which I will try to simplify as much as I can.

Let me note, first, that I am not referring to that first group of Quakers who journeyed from England to the U.S. to flee persecution. I want to focus on those who left the Old World voluntarily.

The England that sent its people to the U.S was an England in crisis. The same applies to Ireland. These colonists came from an aged world that had reached an apogee and was starting to decline. In this situation people started to leave to establish themselves in a new and unpopulated world. It was the more audacious and restless persons who left, those who did not like the cadenced march of the European world. They went to the U.S. bringing a spirit of adventure.

Those who left England were the persons of a simplifying spirit, who did not like the complications of European and English culture. For example, in the religious field, there were, on one hand, Anglicans fighting against Baptists, Anabaptists and Quakers; on the other hand, all those Protestants sects were fighting against the Catholics. In the political sphere on the British Islands, the English were fighting with the Irish and the Scots. Internationally, England continued its historic rivalry with France and Germany, with its constant resentments against what it deridingly calls Continental Europe. Each of those antagonisms originated from complicated causes.

So, these persons who left England were tired of those complications; their mindset was turned toward simplifying and reducing all those problems in view of two intertwined goals: an adventure in order to make money.

The points that make the Americans different from the English are their love of adventure, their practical spirit, their ability to improvise and to avoid everything complicated; also, they have the tendency to reject tradition, blaming it as a source of those complications they do not like. This is the mentality that I see in the cowboys as well as the pioneers who settled and expanded the United States, from its beginning up to the 19th century.

Black and white photograph of immigrants on Ellis Island

A second wave of immigrants soon left off their traditional customs to adopt American ways; above, arriving at Ellis Island; below, Little Italy in New York City

A historical photograph depicting Little Italy - New York
The immigrants who came later also abandoned their traditional characteristics, as the English had done. In this, the English who came to the U.S. were the trailblazers. Just as they “de-anglicanized” themselves, so the descendents of Germans “de-teutonized” themselves, the Syrians “de-syrianized” themselves, etc. They were all patched together, making a quilt of faded materials, which is what the United States is today.

So far, you have the description of the American capital vice, rather than its primordial light. From this description of the capital vice, however, we can move on to focus on the primordial light.

From this ambience emerged a group of discontented persons: Onto the scene came a category of North-Americans with universal concerns, something that conflicted with the capital vice of America.

These persons were seeking a more profound way of thinking but did not find it; they were looking for the marvelous and did not find it; they wanted the noble spirit of dedication and seriousness and did not find them. These persons began to unite in order to search for these values. These are the ones who make up the Counter-Revolution. They are a family of souls that found such values in the pure fountain of the Catholic Church. They found what America’s capital vice had expunged from the American ambience.

So, in this we find one aspect of the Reign of Mary: those who, with the daring of the cowboy, place themselves at the service of Our Lady. They do not ride after cattle, but rather souls; they seek not only souls to conquer, but enemies to defeat. This is the description of a Crusader. This is how Americans can become part of a chivalric order to establish the Reign of Mary.

Here you have a short summary of how I consider the History of the United States from its foundation until today.

Question: What is the role of the American Counter-Revolution during the Chastisement predicted in Fatima?

Answer: North America accumulated in an archetypical way everything the revolutionary world wanted to spread. If the Chastisement must destroy the fruits of the Revolution, then it should be particularly destructive in the United States.

A painting of cowboys on the open range

Cowboys on the open range, something of the crusader spirit

Thus, the role of the Counter-Revolution in the U.S. is to have a power to construct, order and decide that is equal to or greater than the energies of the Revolution that led to build this revolutionary establishment.

This force of spirit can only be the fruit of a special mentality, the mentality of the Crusade. I am sure that if the Crusaders had remained in the Holy Land, the history of the Middle East would have been completely different. Their mentality was different from the Muslim world, but they would have built something much greater, of a different grandeur.

I hope that the Counter-Revolution in the U.S. builds a much greater civilization than the modern civilization the U.S. has raised up today, one with a different grandeur. It should attract all the souls who long for the marvelous, who desire all the things the modern world wanted to eliminate.

Posted January 26, 2018
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