"Repeating a lie a hundred times":
Introvigne, Cantoni, TFP

Miguel Martinez

June 18th, 2001

    "This man is even greater than his legend!", was the thrilled comment of a well-known French counter-revolutionary thinker after a meeting with prof. Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira in 1968.

    The luminous trail of Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira went nearly from one bank to the other of our troubled century, marking it with the indelible sign of the example of his pure life, his consistent and vital thought, his unbreakable Catholic, apostolic, Roman faith. His work - the Societies for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property (TFP), which today flourish in 27 countries on all five continents - bear witness to the apostolic fecundity of this giant of contemporary Catholicism."

    Giovanni Cantoni, inroduction to Rivoluzione e Controrivoluzione, ed. Cristianità, 1977

A couple of years ago, there was an interesting exchange on the French newsgroup, fr.soc.religion. Here is what a certain "Bertrandt" (bertrand@isnhp4.in2p3.fr, il 26.03.1998, wrote under the "subject", reponse à introvigne referring to a discussion involving Massimo Introvigne - director of CESNUR; TFP or "Tradition, Family and Property", founded by the Brazilian, Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira; and the movement Alleanza Cattolica, of which Introvigne is one of the national leaders:

    "I recently wrote that Alleanza Cattolica was a branch of the TFP cult and that Mr Introvigne was a member. He wrote me (for the second time) to explain that the first part of the statement was false. Actually, what I wrote was only based on the writings of Aries, Fouchereau or Faubert, who also quote each other. And, according to Introvigne, the source of these authors is the newsletter of an Italian "Nazi" cult called Sodalitium. This, according to Introvigne, shows how weak the statement is, that Alleanza Cattolica=TFP [...].

    Later, Mr Introvigne told me:

    "Repeating a lie a hundred times does not make it come true".

One is a little surprised at the way Sodalitium - a Catholic traditionalist publication whose ideas are quite close to those of Alleanza Cattolica - is labelled as a "Nazi cult", especially because Sodalitium of course has no sympathy for national-socialism, seen as a form of "occult and anti-Christian paganism"; also, one would hardly expect such a loose use of the word "cult" by Introvigne. However, what is far more important is to see whether claiming that Alleanza Cattolica and TFP, or rather Alleanza Cattolica and the ideology of the founder of the TFP, Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira, have something in common is only "repeating a lie a hundred times."

For this reason, I publish an article here which Introvigne would probably hesitate to label so summarily. The article is an interview on the official organ of TFP, Catolicismo; and the interviewee is Giovanni Cantoni, "National Regent" of Alleanza Cattolica, as well as co-author, together with Massimo Introvigne, of the book 'Sette' e 'diritto di persecuzione'.

In this interview, Introvigne's fellow militant proclaims his total identification with the way of thinking of the founder of TFP; he expresses the hope that moral renewal shall be provided by a "body offering spiritual and intellectual direction", something which he is "profoundly convinced" should be provided by the "Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property and similar organizations, inspired by the apostolic [sic] work of Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira." There is even more: Cantoni actually says he is "proud to have materially given origin" to the third section of the basic work of the founder of TFP.

alleanza cattolica

The header of Catolicismo

In the self-laudatory style which is so typical of TFP, the original title of the interview is "In Italy, four prestigious editions of Revolution and Counter-Revolution. Interview with Giovanni Cantoni by Juán Miguel Montes Cousiño". The article came out in Portuguese on Catolicismo, the organ of the TFP, n 580, Sao Paulo - Brazil, April 1999, Year XLIX, pages 12-15. It later came out, in Italian and with a more modest title, "Revolution and Counter-Revolution Forty Years Later" ("Rivoluzione e Contro-Rivoluzione quarant'anni dopo"), on the official magazine of Alleanza Cattolica, Cristianità, number 289 (May 1999).

Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira, besides being the founder of TFP, is also the author of the book which inspired TFP, Revolution and Counter-Revolution. This book was published in Italy by Cristianità, the official publishing house of Alleanza Cattolica, and Cantoni - in the Catolicismo interview - explains the background of the Italian edition .

Revolution and Counter-Revolution, available on the Web in English, basically claims that the "natural order of things" is the feudal and hierarchical system of the Middle Ages. Sinful human pride rebels against this system; but to rebel against a political and economic hierarchy means to rebel against God himself:

    "The proud person, subject to another's authority, hates first of all the particular yoke that weighs upon him. In a second stage, the proud man hates all authority in general and all yokes, and, even more, the very principle of authority considered in the abstract. Because he hates all authority, he also hates superiority of any kind. And in all this there is a true hatred for God"

    Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira, Revolution and Counter-Revolution, Chapter VII, III.

Since I am writing in Italy and not in Brazil, it might be useful (and is certainly amusing) to concentrate on the "Little Breviary of the Counter-Revolutionary", a summary of Plinio's book by the Alleanza Cattolica militant Paolo De Bei, moderator (or censor) of the newsgroup it.politica.cattolici, a task which he inherited, by the way, from another Alleanza Cattolica militant, David Botti. Proving himself to be already a master of scholastics, young De Bei claims that the Revolution"is a metaphysical, non-ontological, entity" ("it is not ontologically real, since it is objectively evil") and it "consists of a substantia and its accidens". As a "metaphysical entity", therefore, the Revolution must be written strictly with a capital "R" (this is also a knack of Introvigne's).

paolo de bei

Paolo De Bei

The Revolution goes through four stages (quotes are all taken from De Bei):

  • The first is the Protestant Reformation: "In the Lutheran Reformation, the basic features of the First Revolution all appear: hatred for hierarchy, self-pride and sensuality".

  • Then comes the French Revolution, guilty of the following terrible sins: "a) Dethroning the King, symmetrical to the rebellion against the Pope. b) The will to subvert the nobility, parallel to subversion of the ecclesiastic aristocracy (clergy). c) Claim that sovereignty resides with the people, associated with the ideals of certain radical sects."

  • The Third Revolution is that of the "neo-barbarian of the 20th Century", Communism, which actually even creates economic equality.

  • The Fourth Revolution is contemporary relativism (oddly enough, both Corrêa de Oliveira and Bei forget that the same relativism coincides with a major return to economic inequalities, so one could also think there is a return to the good old state of affairs, after the Third Revolution).

Paolo De Bei, quoting Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira almost literally, explains who the "Counter-Revolutionary" is:

    "The counter-revolutionary is the person who hates the Revolution, knows it and fights it with all his being; he places his centre of gravity around ideals, preferences, thoughts, activities and choices which mirror his love for order and his hatred for anti-order."

A rather clear picture of the psychological makeup of people like Giovanni Cantoni, Massimo Introvigne, PierLuigi Zoccatelli, Valter Maccantelli, Andrea Menegotto, Aldo Carletti, David Botti, Andrea Morigi and others we deal with in these pages.

But let us now return to the intimate relationship between Giovanni Cantoni and Revolution and Counter-Revolution (or RCR, for its enthusiasts), as appears in the interview which we are discussing. We can well say that Cantoni has been "a man of one book" for no less than four decades; and that one book has been Revolution and Counter-Revolution.

As he also says in the Catolicismo interview, Cantoni, in the early '60s, belonged to the "Centre for Civil Order" (associated with the right-wing Catholic intellectuals Augusto Del Noce and Baget Bozzo). At the same time, he worked with the "Edizioni dell'Albero" publishing house, together with such important right-wing figures as Alfredo Cattabiani, Pietro Femore and Piero Capello, journalist for Il Borghese. In the publishing house, Giovanni Cantoni took care of a series which published works by authors such as Attilio Mordini (a volunteer in the SS and in Mussolini's "Social Republic", later creator of an unusual form of Catholic esotericism which still has several followers); Primo Siena of the neo-falangista "Alleanza Cattolica Tradizionalista"; Thomas Molnar; Father Calmel; Francisco Elias de Tejeda, an effusive Spanish traditionalist who upheld the singular notion that the Bourbon dynasty of Naples were progressive usurpers (along with the Cantoni interview in Catolicismo, an important source on these matters is La cultura politica della Destra cattolica, Coines Edizioni, Rome, 1976, by Giovanni Tassani).

Cantoni and Cattabiani continued to work together for many years, and their joint activities culminated in 1970 when the Rusconi publishing house launched a large scale operation to spread right-wing culture: the books that came out ecumenically included both counter-revolutionary texts and the "metaphysical" writings of René Guénon. A few years later, Cantoni established "Alleanza Cattolica" together with Mauro Ronco, of the authoritarian Christian Democrat movement Europa Settanta, the baron Roberto de Mattei of the Monarchist Youth Front (who also worked with the neo-Facist Edizioni Volpe publishing house) and the charismatic figure of Agostino Sanfratello.

One of the texts published by Cantoni at the time he was with the Edizioni dell'Albero (as he tells us in the interview) was an essay against the Italian "Risorgimento" which attracted the attention of TFP; this led to the publication in Italian of the book Problemi dell'apostolato moderno ("Problems of Modern Apostolate") (Ed. dell'Albero, Torino, 1963) written by the then friend of TFP, Bishop Antonio De Castro Mayer (1904-1991); and especially the publication of Revolution and Counter-Revolution. Cantoni, in the Catolicismo interview, says: "I realized that that book was the answer to my personal political and religious problems, and to those of the political and cultural milieu I was living in"; struck by enthusiasm, Cantoni started to study Portuguese just to be able to make a better Italian translation. Should anyone think this was merely a juvenile infatuation, Cantoni adds that now - forty years later - he is preparing a new edition.

Cantoni then wrote an introduction to the Italian edition of 1972, which he comments on in the Catolicismo interview as follows:

    "The article which I wrote as an introduction to the 1972 edition, "Italy between Revolution and Counter-Revolution", was an attempt to interpret the last 200 years of Italian history according to the tools of analysis afforded by RCR. This interpretation was the background behind the activity of Alleanza Cattolica in its counter-revolutionary apostolate, and it is still fully valid today."

Cantoni even persuaded Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira to write a third part of his book, twenty years after the first edition. This is confirmed, in Revolution and Counter-Revolution, by Plinio himself.

There is a slight difference here between the English language and the Italian language edition of RCR; in the English version we read:

    In 1976 the author was asked to write a preface to a new Italian edition of Revolution and Counter-Revolution. He deemed it better, instead, to present an analysis of the evolution of the revolutionary process in the nearly twenty years since the essay's first edition.

. However, the Italian version clearly says that the request came from "our worthy friends of Alleanza Cattolica."

In the interview with Catolicismo Cantoni mentions among Plinio's forerunners "Mons. Henri Delassus who lived between the 19th and 20th Centuries, and who was the author of Le problème de l'heure prèsente: antagonisme de deux civilisations" (Delassus, by the way, received a significant mention by Massimo Introvigne). Actually, Delassus' work has been published and is still distributed by Cantoni's publishing house (Enrico Delassus, Il problema dell'ora presente, Cristianità, Piacenza, 1977). However, no need to spend the money to buy it. A helpful counter-revolutionary has made it available to everybody on Internet in a virtual library significantly called "the arsenal".

Delassus' book belongs to the thrilling genre of apocalyptic pseudo-history, with intrigues of every kind, spiritualist seances, Masonic lodges, the Immaculate Conception of Mary, clippings from Russian newspapers and the prophecies of Saint Hildegard of Bingen. But here is a short extract, from Chapter XXVI ("Various Kinds of Agents"):

    "Ever since the bloody drama on the Calvary, the Jew has had one idea in mind: to annihilate Christianity, and especially to destroy the Catholic Church, which is the mystical body of Christ whom he crucified. Was it Freemasonry which understood how to profit from this feeling and situation? Or was it Judaism which decided to use the Christians for the same purpose? Actually, it matters little. But the identity of the aims of Jews and Freemasons, and the way they join their efforts to achieve this aim, is evident.

    Spread throughout the globe, and with constant relations among each other from one end of the world to the other, the Jews are wonderfully organized to transmit information and orders. For their interests as a people and a race, they have an organization which prepares them in an excellent fashion for this task. As a matter of fact, the Jews everywhere have their agents everywhere, as we said before, the agents of the Kabala, entrusted with looking after the interests of the sons of Israel, and whose authority is virtually without any limit."

After this aside, we are ready to go back to the question this article started with.

Who is right?

Introvigne when he says that the idea that there is any kind of relationship between TFP and Alleanza Cattolica is "a lie repeated a hundred times"?

Or Cantoni when he claims, in this interview, that a relationship was established with TFP in 1960 "which still lasts today"?

Miguel Martínez

Note: The most interesting elements of Cantoni's interview are already included in the article you just read. The Italian language text of the interview has been added at the end of the Italian language version of this same article, so if you know Italian you can read it here.

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