Media from around the world have devoted plenty of space to comment on the 50th anniversary of the Woodstock Festival held in the United States in August 1969.
We are not going to restate the facts here but try to answer a question that can give us insights about current topics: Was Woodstock a success or a failure?
At first glance, one would say that it failed. From an economic point of view, it was a commercial disaster, with a loss of $10 million. On the other hand, there was never any attempt to repeat the event, and it lingered like madness without followers. Now, as it turned 50, those who sought to recreate it perceived that it would be a new failure and ended by giving up the attempt.
In short, a business analyst would say that it was a complete disaster.
However, looking at things from the standpoint of social phenomena and their long-term consequences, Woodstock raised a flag that has “guided” youth for half a century. So much so that today one speaks of the Woodstock “myth” as an ideal that everyone admired, up close or far, which enchanted an entire generation and became a milestone dividing youth customs in a “before” and an “after.”
From this point of view, which to us seems to be the most important, Woodstock was not only not a failure but a huge revolutionary success. Woodstock was for the ways of being and living that preceded it the same as the fall of the Bastille was for the Old Regime: A “paradigm shift.”
That is the role played by “fast-paced revolutionaries,” in the words of Prof. Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira. They point out the goal toward which people should march, and then, in most cases, disappear into a seeming “failure.”
At that point, “slow-moving” revolutionaries appear. They are the “sensible” members of society who consider the “fast-paced” ones a bit exaggerated, though well-intentioned. They do want to attain the final goal, but only gradually, with small and prudent steps.
These latter are responsible for shifting the huge mass of public opinion toward a goal which once seemed utopian. Accordingly, what we see today on streets and city squares, university campuses, in the way young people dress and relate to one another, etc. is an immense Woodstock that no longer impresses or causes reactions.
This twofold “speed” of the revolutionary process has allowed its architects to undermine most sacred institutions and traditions to impose a state of affairs completely opposed to the one that inspired Christian civilization.
Now they are orchestrating something very similar for the coming Synod on the Amazon.
“Fast-paced” revolutionary churchmen are claiming that we must eliminate now and forever the idea of evangelizing and baptizing indigenous people. On the contrary, the “missionaries” are the ones who must learn from the Indians how to care wisely for Pachamama and the environment. They also contend that Western society as a whole must give up its desire for progress and profit and adopt the way of living in poverty and the “idyllic” detachment of the Indians.
The Instrumentum Laboris for the coming synod already contains many of these ideas.
However, since for many they seem much too radical, “slow march” revolutionaries will likely come around at some point to say that, while it is true that the Indians possess deep ancestral wisdom, society could not discard all development and progress immediately. It rather should gradually give up excessive comforts, following the wonderful example of Greta Thunberg, by traveling without bathing on a sailboat propelled by solar panels devoid of polluting elements to attend the coming environmental summit in the United States.
News outlets from around the world will take care of filming her arrival at the port, making the teenager a kind of Saint Joan of Arc fighting against vicious, selfish consumers. This staging will again take place at the COP 25 in Chile later this year.
So, in an almost imperceptible way, perhaps in 50 more years – God forbid! – we will have a semi-tribal world with almost no characteristics of Christian civilization left. A world without family, property, tradition, or culture, an immense wild tribe in which cybernetics will nonetheless play a major role.
In short, the success of “fast-paced” revolutionaries depends on the cunning of the “slow-paced” ones. These are the most dangerous, and they are the ones we must denounce when they come around with their slogans of false moderation.
That is the lesson that Woodstock and its seeming failure leave to us.