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The Vital Principle & Organicity

Plinio Corrêa de Oliviera
When we consider how to administer a country, we see that the masses – vs. the people – are a result of government bureaucracy, and are inorganic.

mass of people

An inorganic mass of unrelated people in New York City vs an organic unit of people in a medieval village

Medieval market
The people, on the contrary, correspond to a type of autonomous government that moves naturally from the bottom to the top. When an organic people exists, a form of self-government results, a government that comes from the governed in such way that the governed one governs himself. Within this organic liberty, one person is consonant with the others around him, and thus they form an ensemble, which we can call the first seed of what is a people.

Vote in democracies

The idea of universal suffrage can represent a government that operates from the bottom to the top. What is wrong in universal suffrage is the demand that the people express themselves 1) by an explicit opinion; 2) by an individual opinion; 3) by an opinion expressed by a written vote that will be counted to evaluate its weight.

These are the three elements of individual opinion in the modern concept of democracy. It is individual in the sense that each individual forms his own opinion using his own data, with his opinion differing from the opinion of the others.

In an organic society the opposite occurs.

The crux of our criticism is that an individual opinion at times is not explicit, or may not be explicit. The person can, by a tendency, affinity or contrariety, validly lean toward this or that thing without knowing why.

It is, for example, how it works in the election of one’s own friends. Many times a person does not know why he chose to be friends of this person and not another. And in fact he does not need to know! Many times this choice is made by an instinctive movement, an impulse that corresponds to reasonable, profound and legitimate aspirations.

voting booths

Votes of persons who do not fullly understand matters & cannot express well their thoughts

In a modern democracy, where some of the governing functions allegedly come from the bottom to the top, if it is established that the outcomes of elections are decided by counting the votes. This is logic, but it is the logic of their error.

In an organic society, this is not reasonable because in this vote the individual does not fully understand the topic upon which he gives an opinion and his tendencies are not sufficiently defined for him to have an explicit opinion. Therefore, because of the insufficiently clear definition of his will on the topic, his individual opinion should not be reduced to a number.

To understand the way of acting of a people and not of a mass, all these considerations should be weighed on the scale to know the specific roles to be played in the direction of public matters. Thus, we can call this the first point of organicity in the individual: He has a thing in himself which is his own self; and it flows outward in him opening like a flower. This is organicity.

If we were to define what organicity is in its most internal, autonomous and free elements, but at the same time its most limited because it does not know how to express himself, we would touch what is the deepest aspect of organic society.

What would this organicity be?

Organicity properly is what we call life. It is the principium vitae, the principle of life, by which a person or a non-personal being – a flower, for example – expands himself. Let us consider a common flower, such as the daisy. Let us imagine a flowerbed with 200 daisies. The first banal observation is that all of these flowers are daisies.

field of daisies

Each daisy is an individual in a living ensemble

A second consideration, however, would be that each one is a daisy in its own way. What is the principle that exists in each daisy through which it fully expresses its “daisy-ness” its own way? This principle is organicity, the quality of being organic.

This principle is the proper principle of life.

Life in everything in which it manifests itself is a principle created by God that governs a mysterious reality that we cannot completely discern because it is superior to our intellect.

From this comes the failure of universal suffrage: Each elector, each person who votes, is moved by a principle superior to his intellect, and because of this he cannot be entirely aware of what he does. It is the life in him that makes things correspond to himself. Although this principle has an unum, it is diffused in all his being. It is, so to speak, what is present in every petal of the daisy, but it has an unum, which is the daisy.


Each one has his personality but  is related to the entirety of the village, thus making a people

medieval village
This principle is a small universe of tendencies, appetencies, impulses and inclinations that are – I am imagining the flower in Paradise – perfect in their structure and moving toward a perfect blossoming. Life in each part of the flower produces an effect that is the result of an addition: the petal + the life. Since the petals are all different, the life animates each petal shape according to the way of being of the petal. And the life let itself be dressed – as it were – by each petal to form the daisy.

In an opposite sense, it is true that the petal in a certain sense is more than the life; the petal has elements by which it reacts to the impulse of life and then obliges the life to be as the petal is. From this relationship of petal-life / life-petal an internal unity comes. But it is unity in variety because the unity lies in that which the petals have of the unum and that which the life has of the unum. From the conjugation of the two things a distinct being comes which is different from all others. So, petals + life = a concrete daisy.

Thus, the more internal element – the soul of the daisy, as it were – is what is most important. It goes on modeling the petals and makes the whole daisy conform to the special attributes of its soul. But in all the parts of the daisy that the soul touches, the soul is modeled as if it were poured into the daisy.

english pub

Villagers exchanging ideas & establishing consensus

Let us make an analogy: A woman prepares a soft dough to make cookies. She pours that dough into a metal form shaped as a daisy. When the dough enters the form, it is modeled by that metal daisy. On the one hand, the metal form suffers some pressure. It dilates a little from the dough it receives. On the other hand, the dough that enters the form also dilates and suffers other types of pressure. From this process comes the cookie that the guest will eat.

This is organicity. It is a vital principle that harmonizes itself when it enters in contact with a situation.

The philosophers call this element a soul, the vegetal soul. Soul is Latin is anima; it is that which animates the daisy. It is that which animates organic society – it is organicity.

celestial paradise

In the Celestial Paradise men will understand this divine principle God placed in all things

This soul is not an intelligent element; it is a living element. This living element influences and is influenced. From the indescribable diversity that results from these influences a general harmony comes. God wants this harmony, which is an unimaginable canticle to His glory.

When the Final Judgment arrives, we can imagine that men will be given to know the ensemble of all the beings that lived and to comprehend in the poem of life what role each living thing had in that harmonic whole to represent and sing the glory of God.

In brief, organicity is a divine principle placed in things – the individuality of the thing – which is unique, and which forms an ensemble desired by God, an ensemble that continues to grow until the end of times and that gives a special glory to Him. We raise here the hypothesis that men will have the knowledge of this in the Final Judgment when they will know the ensemble of men and the ensemble of all created things.

It still remains to know how this is represented in the society of men and the defects that come when we do not take this into consideration.

I have the impression that here we have touched the concept of organicity in its deepest point.


The news is called out & assimilated naturally by a people


Posted January 17, 2024


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