Organic Society
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The Simple Elites of the People

Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira
The intermediary social bodies between the individual and the State are fundamentally these: the clergy, the nobility as classes, and the plebeian guilds as associations.

With the French Revolution and the numerous revolutions that immediately preceded or followed it, this hierarchy was abolished in the West. What remained was just the State and the individual, with all individuals considered equal, at least in the political realm.

Each individual is worth one ballot and counts as one number in the total sum, as, for example, one of the 200 million Brazilians. Each one of us would be just a number in our Nation: one number more, one number less. This forms an inorganic society, where all have the same rights and the same duties.

It is the opposite of a society where the cells form organs, which constitute the organism. Each cell has its own mission and work; its role differs from the others in a hierarchy of responsibilities that depends on the major or minor function that each one exercises. In present day Brazil we do not form a people, we form a mass.


Woodcutters by Jean François Millet

Let us take the concrete case, often mentioned among us, of Maître Pignon, Master Pignon. He was from a family of French lumberjacks or woodcutters whose lineage ran from the time of the Romans. That family continued cutting trees for centuries until the period of the French Revolution.

Every year at the birthday of the head of the family, the King would send a small chivalry unit to deliver a handwritten letter congratulating the particular Maître Pignon of his time. All the heads of that family became Maître Pignon. He was called Master because the long history of competence in that profession made him capable of teaching successive generations the fine points and family secrets of the work.

In one of these letters, written by Louis XIV if I am not mistaken, the King offered him the title of Baron. The Maître Pignon of that time thanked the King very much, but declined the offer because, he declared, he preferred to be the oldest woodcutter of France than its newest baron.

We know that a woodcutter is much less than a baron, but we see that this long history of woodcutting confers something imponderable to a family, giving it a singular specialization, ability and know-how that makes it the best that exists in that work.

Soldier infantry

1,000 years shedding blood for France as simple soldiers is a glorious tradition

There are other examples that indicate the excellence of a long family history in a particular work or profession. When some friends in France asked the historian George Bordonove, who wrote Les Rois qui ont fait la France (The Kings who made France), about his family, he responded: “I am from a plebeian family of very modest origin. My ancestors were all in the army. They never reached the level of officers, but for 1,000 years they shed their blood for France.”

One thousand years of military service! You can imagine what this signifies! It is beautiful!

There is a glory in this fact that even the title of Marshal does not surpass. The fact that a family shed its blood for France for a span of 1,000 years makes that family almost sacred.

If there were a ranching family in Brazil that could count 1,000 years of service on the land and this family would decide to leave the country, the due authorities should do everything possible to keep the family here because a family like this is a treasure.

In one of his allocutions, Pius XII stresses that inheritance is a mysterious factor desired by God that acts in its own way to elevate many families.

One thousand years of being a woodcutter are 1,000 years of glory. The trees are felled, the land is cleared for agricultural uses, livestock are raised on that land, and so the woodcutter moves further into the forest. Then, the forest is replanted, so that when this woodcutter finishes his work, the land is not left like a desert but other men have come to replant a new forest. Perhaps alongside that family of woodcutters there would be also a family of re-planters.

Saints Gummarus and Simon

St. Gummarus & St. Simon the Apostle are Patron Saints of the Woodcutters

It is beautiful to see a young man who descends from the Kings of one country marry a young lady who descends from Kings and Queens from another area. I believe that, proportionally speaking, it would also be beautiful to see a young man descending from a family of woodcutters marry a young lady descending from a family that replants forests.

Maintaining such modest professions in a family through the centuries has something micro-noble about it. These lineages do not constitute a dynasty because a dynasty is a family succession of Kings and Princes. Woodcutters cannot do this. But, this succession of woodcutters through the centuries has something about it that is para-dynastic, micro-regal and micro-aristocratic.

Through the years that family develops special techniques of cutting the trees, a way to prevent them from falling on a house or orchard, and also a special ritual that can include a prayer to Saint X, who is the Patron Saint of the woodcutters of that region. Cutting down a tree is meant to help men, but the action should be replaced by another good that also benefits men.

In this way, the reign of man over nature is affirmed, because he destroys what he has the right to destroy for his good. Then, he replants what he destroyed. In the replanting, he can even improve the way the trees grow so that the forest that succeeds the first is more perfect. Thus, through the centuries that first oak of the time of the Barbarians was replaced by another stronger and nobler oak and this continues until it ends by being a much more perfect oak.

I say nobler because the process of hereditary succession is prone to improve.

So, we find that through the centuries not only does that family of woodcutters becomes an archetype for that work, but also the succession of replanted oaks generated the archetype of the oak. The two types of progress represent a fundamental factor for the continuous success of a country.

With these presuppositions, we understand the stupidity of those who want to resolve all the problems of society by making laws. The representatives form a commission to study a problem and then enact a law to resolve it. Next, they found a public department to enforce the law. Finally, the Penal Code is adjusted to punish those who violate that law. This is the fatal cycle of the inorganic bureaucracy.


Blason de Charlemagne
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Posted January 3, 2020
Tradition in Action

 Dr. Plinio Correa de Oliveira
Prof. Plinio
Organic Society was a theme dear to the late Prof. Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira. He addressed this topic on countless occasions during his life - at times in lectures for the formation of his disciples, at times in meetings with friends who gathered to study the social aspects and history of Christendom, at times just in passing.

Atila S. Guimarães selected excerpts of these lectures and conversations from the transcripts of tapes and his own personal notes. He translated and adapted them into articles for the TIA website. In these texts fidelity to the original ideas and words is kept as much as possible.

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