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the attitude of the Roman Catholic Church to Socialism admits of more exact study and of more precise statement. In Protestantism the diversity of sects and the fact that the individual preacher everywhere counts for more and “the Church” for less, render any general statement more difficult
, whereas, in spite of great local differences, the Roman discipline and organisation make of wider significance any principles adopted and proclaimed by conspicuous members of the clerical order without reprimand from the Vatican; and, it hardly needs to be added, a Papal Encyclical has an official authority to which no utterance of any Protestant ecclesiastic can openly lay claim.
It is perhaps necessary to explain to some English readers that in continental use the word “Evangelical” simply means “ Protestant,” and that by “Liberalism” is always meant the principle of laissez-faire in regard to economic matters, and often also “free-thinking or “secularism ” in regard to religion.
in regard to religion. “Catholic,” of course, means “ Roman Catholic”. Anglicans are included by the writer under the general head of “Evangelical”. The peculiar claims of Anglicanism naturally find a difficulty in obtaining appreciation from outside. A due understanding of the difference between the Anglican and the other Churches of the Reformation might, however, suggest an explanation of what otherwise seems a puzzling problem, viz., that Socialism and the “ Labour movement” generally have me, with more sympathy among a certain number of vigorous High Churchmen in the Established Church of England, than amongst Low Churchmen or Protestant Nonconformists. The explanation is simply part of the reason why Christian Socialism generally is more Catholic than Protestant. Protestantism is individualistic, in a sense in which Catholicism is not. Although to some English readers the author's brief references to our ecclesiastical, political and social questions may seem to alter the usual perspective in which they are accustomed to see things, this is not altogether a disadvantage: it is often a good thing " to see ourselves as others see us".
This translation was made by a Roman Catholic lady living in Rome, who was deeply interested in the attitude of her Church to the social question. She died before completing the revision of the proofs. The work, I understand, was done amid the weakness and suffering of long illness. The translator although perfectly familiar with Italian had apparently lost to some extent a close familiarity with her own tongue. It has only been possible in a rapid revision of the final proofs to remedy to some extent the consequent defects, and to alter a word or phrase here and there for the sake of clearness. Here and there, it will be observed, the translator has felt bound, as a devout Catholic, to dissent from statements of the author.1 This has been done with his knowledge and authorisation. Professor Nitti has himself read through the proofs of the English translation.
DAVID G. RITCHIE.
9th May, 1895.
See, e.g., notes on pp. 72, 114, 120, 137. On p. 58, note 4, the translator, in criticising the author, seems to have forgotten the parallel passage in Luke, vi., 20.
On the morrow of the Revolution of 1848, which drenched France in blood, and was re-echoed throughout the rest of Europe, Socialism seemed crushed for ever; and the historians and economists of the day hastened to pronounce its funeral oration, or rather, sentence of condemnation.
Yet, at this present moment, Socialism is more alive, more feared, more powerful than it has ever been. In vain have political economy and anthropology condemned its various systems as contrary to modern science and the results of positive research ; in vain have many Utopias faded before the vivid light of reality. Even while we condemn Socialism, considering as mere dreams of morbid imaginations, or of idealists wanting in all sense of the reality of things, those schemes for the reconstruction of the social fabric that inflame the popular mind and threaten to submerge modern society ; even while we censure the brutal conception of life and its aims which forms the ideal of social democracy, we feel that in this Niagara of contradictions, errors and uncertainties, which are the basis of Socialism, there is nevertheless a something that defies our criticism. Though the systems of Socialism may be false, or contradictory, or Utopian, the morality it teaches is by far superior to that of its adversaries.
Thus it is that in spite of all our efforts, the popular classes, deluded by a few specious formulas, the hollowness of which they are unable to discern, gradually become more and more estranged from us, and that Socialism, like some new Antæus, gathering life and strength from the earth that gave it birth, daily assumes a more hostile attitude towards civilisation and the future of society. The demi-god destined to smother Socialism in his mighty and fatal embrace is not yet born, or is too far off, whereas, unlike Antæus in this respect, the new-born son of the earth clings tenaciously to its mother, nor has ever quitted her for an instant.
The Paris Congress, the German elections in 1890, the monster demonstrations of the ist May, 1891, 1892, are all recent events that clearly prove how profoundly the sub-soil of modern society, that fruit of the slow, upward labour of ages, is undermined by popular discontent.
The thoughtless manner in which we have hitherto discussed these weighty problems, on which existing society depends, is truly deplorable. claimed that the will of the people is superior to every other power, and yet we bow resignedly under the most frightful of all tyrannies, that of parliamentary majorities. But now that the masses have acquired political power, they feel all the more heavily the crushing weight of their own misery. And partly through ambition, partly through vanity, partly through ignorance the demagogues speculate upon this feeling, promising things that are utterly unattainable, as if social relations could be durably modified by ministerial decrees, or by any law of mere parliamentary initiative. Our writers, philosophers and politicians, never weary
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of inculcating to the people the doctrines of Materialism, and of striving to destroy that religious faith which long ages of inheritance had so firmly implanted in their souls. Hence comes it that day by day the very foundations of society become more insecure; and it is precisely the men who diffuse these principles who are most obstinate in ignoring the consequences to which they must lead.
The Liberal school has urged the masses onward in the path of Socialism, granting them political power, accustoming them to large promises, despoiling them of all religious belief, yet offering them no better compensation than vain and empty phrases.
What wonder then if the people draw the logical consequences of the principles thus diffused among them? What wonder if, robbed of the Gospel of Christ, they embrace that of Bakunin? if seeing themselves deluded in all their hopes, and derided by the very men who had promised them so much, what wonder if they turn their anxious eyes to Socialism, and from it expect redemption and prosperity? And finally, if having been taught to believe that civil and political equality would cancel all social injustices, and discovering that, on the contrary, the very liberty thus given them but tends to increase their ills, what wonder if, no longer willing to content themselves with the empty formulas of politicians, they now aspire to economic liberty?
The principles of the French Revolution are daily losing ground. How can a code that interdicts all collective and lasting enterprise beget anything but sordid weakness? Renan was, therefore, perfectly right in saying that the new men who, during the last