What are the main goals of TFP in 2020?
Broadly speaking, the goals of Tradition, Family and Property (TFP) for 2020 are the same as they were when we started in 1973. We promote Counter-Revolutionary ideas, foster Christian culture, and spread devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary.
As you may know, our big campaign last year was centered on opposing the Pan-Amazon Synod and its many objectionable statements and actions against Holy Mother Church. There is a radical push to distort the Catholic Church from within. The worship of the pagan Pachamama idol on Vatican grounds was one shocking example of the deep crisis in the Church, which faithful Catholics have the obligation to prayerfully resist and make reparation to God.
We also have a long-term campaign underway to promote the principles of organic Christian society. The centerpiece of this effort is the book Return to Order by John Horvat, vice-president of the American TFP. With more than 345,000 copies already in circulation, the book has sparked great interest.
Plans for specific campaigns this year depend a lot on what happens during and after the lockdown. I should also mention that the American TFP just published a vital statement about the pandemic, offering an antidote to the panic and ideological manipulation behind the coronavirus crisis. I invite you to read the document, Warning! A Virus Threatens America’s Future and Christian Civilization.
Could you explain how TFP Student Action works? Which countries are you based in?
Sure. TFP Student Action is a special campaign run by the American TFP. Our mission is to promote moral values on college campuses. That can be a big challenge, especially because the left likes to pretend that they own higher education.
Sometimes TFP volunteers are physically attacked for promoting moral values on campus. But instead of retreating, they cherish the opportunity to debate and defend the truth with holy boldness even at the most radical left-wing campuses like UC – Berkeley or Brown University.
The American TFP has sister organizations in dozens of countries. Outside the United States, the main countries where the Student Action campaign has a presence are the Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland, France, and Poland.
We also have a variety of sister associations in South America which engage in similar campaigns, most notably the Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira Institute in Brazil.
How does TFP Student Action work? There are several facets. In terms of public action, we regularly engage in street campaigns where we will get in debates and distribute literature on a variety of topics including abortion, homosexual “marriage,” socialism, transgenderism and other hot topics. You can see some of those campaigns here: https://www.youtube.com/user/tfpstudentaction
Perhaps the best example of these campaigns are the “caravans,” when groups of young volunteers travel the country for weeks at a time doing multiple demonstrations each day. In addition to this, we maintain a website (at https://tfpstudentaction.org/ ) where we launch frequent petition drives. Some of them have been very successful in stopping pro-abortion events at Catholic universities.
Other activities include Call to Chivalry Camps for boys and student conferences. Here we strive to highlight the ideals of chivalry through talks and games, as well as authentic masculine piety, the recitation of the rosary and frequent recourse to the sacraments. These camps focus on attractive Catholic role models. One year, the camp theme was about Catholic Spain. The boys learned about the Reconquista, Don Pelayo, El Cid, King St. Ferdinand III, the siege of the Alcazar of Toledo, bullfighting, and impressive Holy Week processions in Seville.
For college students, we have a variety of regional groups which host discussion circles for young men interested in counter-revolutionary thought and action, as well as two annual winter student conferences in the US and France, respectively. Also, towards the end of each summer, the TFP holds an international student conference in either Central or Western Europe.
How influential are Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira’s works for American traditionalist, conservative and paleo-libertarian movement?
On its surface, most people would likely think that a South American monarchist with a profound love for the Old World and traditional European civilization would not have much resonance with the ideological sons of the American Revolution. But reality is surprising. The ideas of Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira and the TFP have had quite a profound influence in the realm of American conservatism, particularly among the moral values conservatives.
Much of this influence can be traced back to the advent of the American New Right, a movement that sprung up in the time of Ronald Reagan. At the invitation of a veteran TFP member stationed in Washington, D.C. several influential leaders of this ideological movement traveled to Brazil to meet Prof. Corrêa de Oliveira. Without fail, all of them returned to the US with great enthusiasm for his ideas and maintained close partnerships with the TFP in North America. One such figure was Morton Blackwell, who wrote a foreword to the American edition of Prof. Corrêa de Oliveira’s book, Nobility and Analogous Traditional Elites in the Allocutions of Pius XII.
Today, the work of the TFP is well known among conservative circles and we continue to network with conservative and traditionalist groups.
What do you think about Donald Trump? Is he really a reliable anti-establishment figure?
This question requires a nuanced answer. In a certain sense, we must acknowledge that President Trump has done some very good things. For example, consider his public support of the pro-life movement – including speaking at the March for Life in Washington, D.C. earlier this year – the promotion of genuine conservatives in the government and solid attacks on certain aspects of socialism. Notably his “We Want God” speech in Poland contains rhetoric that many modern Europeans simply needed to hear.
On the other hand, he has lamentably taken bad positions on issues such as homosexuality. Not only this, but he does not always conduct himself with the dignity which his office demands.
As to the question of whether or not he is truly anti-establishment, there is little question that he has shaken up the American establishment.
Why are many young Americans embracing communism so far?
As society moves away from God and further towards nihilism, the youth – like all people in the modern world – feel more and more adrift like countless castaways. In their search for meaning and a purpose, they turn to ideologies and movements that they believe will provide them with what they seek. In the past, the void was filled by the true Faith, but the modern world has pushed God aside and instead replaced Him with figures who promise a socialist paradise on earth.
Unfortunately, communism did not die with the fall of the Iron Curtain, it only underwent a metamorphosis. The methods changed but the goal remains the same.
At the same time, both in the U.S. and Europe, a significant number of youth thirst for the traditional Catholic Faith and are open to the message of the Counterrevolution.
Could we consider Southern States as Texas and Alabama as a counter-force against sweeping revolutionary trends?
Again, the answer requires some nuance. First off, though, there is no doubt that states like these are objectively acting as a cultural bulwark against revolutionary trends in society. In many states, the radical abortion agenda is blocked or slowed down. Legal efforts have stymied and even reversed some aspects of the culture of death.
However, the anti-family movement never rests. As a result, the American left has made great strides to shift the attitudes and politics of these states to fall in line with the spearhead of the revolution. Take, for example, the creeping margins of conservative electoral victories in Texas or the capitulation under pressure of states such as North Carolina at the hands of the gender theory lobby.
In relation to the COVID-19 crisis, what do you think about “state of emergency” declarations? And regarding the possible aftermath?
While certain safety measures make sense, there are reasons for concern. The biggest issue is the nearly universal loss of access to the sacraments for Catholics. This year marks the first time in the history of the Church without the public celebration of the Easter liturgy. Is this a chastisement? Is God telling us something?
Moreover, many countries are using the “state of emergency” to greatly expand their powers. Regardless of whether or not every case is excessive, practical American wisdom has it that, “Once you give the government power, you will never be able to get it back.” So, in this sense, we must be vigilant because the “emergency” – whether real or fabricated – can trigger public opinion to accept more socialist tendencies or policies.
At the time of struggling against big government, some people do only focus on economy, leaving aside the moral and cultural dimensions. What recommendations would you give them?
To ignore morality is a grave mistake. Ronald Reagan saw conservatism as a three-legged stool: fiscal sanity, strong defense and moral values. Although fiscal sanity is one of these legs, the stool cannot stand on one leg alone. It needs to be bolstered by the defense of moral values. Even though economics are important, the reality is that politics are downstream from culture. If they ignore this concept, they will find that in spite of being able to obtain short-term electoral victories, society will be lost.
Modern society thinks about the body and ignores the soul. Yet, as Prof. Corrêa de Oliveira points out in his book, Revolution and Counterrevolution, the root of our contemporary crisis originates within the soul of man. In other words, when order and virtue reigns within the heats of men, you can except to see harmony and order in civil society.
In relation to Europe, what warning signs would you give Americans?
Before talking about warning signs, I would like to say that there are signs of hope in America. It is no secret that we have been one of the most liberal countries in the world for most of our history. During the 19th century, our existence served as a challenge to the traditional social and political order of Europe. In the early 20th, we bombarded the world with the filth of Hollywood.
However, in spite of this decadence, large sectors of America do not endorse Hollywood and have developed antibodies to fight against it. There is a healthy reaction to oppose and resist evil in society. Every year, for example, the TFP’s America Needs Fatima campaign coordinates nearly 20,000 public square Rosary Rallies across the country. One million Catholics went to the streets last October.
Every year, about 500,000 people join the March for Life in Washington, D.C. The Left is exasperated because, with great enthusiasm, tens of thousands of teenagers and college students attend this event to end the sin of abortion. Among the youth, abortion is rejected.
Now, what can Americans learn from Europe? I see two big lessons. Frist, when man cooperates with the grace of God, great things are achieved such as flourishing of the Middle Ages with its great saints and its advancement in learning, hospitals, agriculture and architecture. Christian Civilization was born. And that’s why most tourists still visit Europe to see the marvels of Christendom.
On the flipside, when we turn our back on God and His wisdom – which modern culture has done – the result is pathetic. In Europe, we have seen the revolutionary realization of ideologies such as communism, socialism and liberalism, and the destruction and deep scars that they have left in their wake. The outcome should be enough for us to want to avoid the follies that modernism and secularism and embrace the timeless principles of Christian Civilization.
The perennial teachings of the Holy Catholic Church offer what the world needs most to avoid general chaos and anarchy. And within the civil society, the values of Tradition, Family and Property continue to shine as beacons of order in storms seas. In closing, I would like to thank you for giving me the opportunity to discuss these ideas. I should also mention that many Catholics in America admire the fidelity of Catholic Spain that gave the world such outstanding models. Don Pelayo, St. Teresa of Avila, St. Peter Arbues, and many more come to mind.
Like them, we must continue the good fight.
Originally published in Tradicion Viva.