SIR,—May I say in reply to G.P.T. that while it is doubtless true that the one and only object of the Church is the salvation of souls, nevertheless it should be sufficiently obvious that this involves and always has involved Christians in a very considerable deal of entanglement with social and political problems?
A certain Pope took for his motto : "To restore all things in Christ," and 1 see no reason to suppose that the word all was an accident. And the present Pope has made a good deal of to-do about the Kingship of Christ, and here again I do not see how we can avoid the supposition that Christ should reign in the world as well as in our hearts, the one depending on the other.
The Theists are reported to take the line that under modern industrial conditions the only Christian attitude for the workers is that of immolation; and every member of that organisation regards himself as a sacrifice willingly offered, a continuation of Calvary and of the Mass. Without doubt this is an heroic position to take, and a logical one, but it is not one which the rest of us can justly acquiesce in. G.P.T. says it is the business of the Church's children " to maintain the invisible Kingdom in any social conditions," and as a parish priest said to me " A man can be a very good Catholic in a factory." These things are true, but it is also true that " This is true religion and undefiled : to succour the widow and the fatherless in their affliction . . . "; and no individual Christian can save his own soul and not consider his neighbour's good. And further, man being matter and spirit, spiritual good and material good arc intermixed. So while St. Paul said "Servants, obey your masters," his own Master did not hesitate to turn the money changers out of the Temple.
Why Choose Either Evil?
Sre,—Mr. Eric Gill presents us with a choice between Scylla and Charybdis. He seems to believe that the evils of capitalist industrialism justify us in preferring the lesser evils of communism. But even supposing that the evils of communism are the lesser, which is, as Fr. D'Arcy shows, extremely disputable, there would still be no reason for Catholics to listen to his counsel of despair. For it is the obvious duty of Catholics to avoid both evils and to stand for social justice, however difficult or desperate the situation may appear to be The evil of capitalism has been the assertion of the unrestricted rights of Capital which, in practice, means the denial of any economic rights to the workers. The evil of communism is the assertion of the unrestricted rights of the proletariat and the denial to the " Bourgeois " and the capitalist of the right to exist. Catholicism. on the other hand, teaches, and has always taught, that both the worker and the employer, both poor and rich, possess rights, and that a just social order can only be attained by class co-operation based on the recognition of their mutual rights. At the present day, owing in part to the teaching of Christian economic doctrine, and in part to a change of opinion in the liberal camp itself, the old liberal capitalism, with its assertion of the unrestricted rights of capital and free competition, has been widely abandoned and there has been a gradual tendency in favour of the principle of a living wage and the adoption of convertive and co-operative principles of industrial organisation. On the other hand, communism has, as yet, shown no disposition to abandon its campaign for the annihilation of the non proletarian elements in society. and consequently it is communism rather than capitalism which, at the present moment, is most opposed to the Catholic ideal of economic justice and social order. No doubt the world is still suffering from the evil inheritance of unrestricted capitalism and economic anarchy, but that is no reason why we should create fresh evils, perhaps even greater than those of the past, by setting up the economic tyranny of communism, which leads not to the control by the worker of his work and the conditions of his life, but to the absolute control of the life of the worker by an omnipotent state.
CHRISTOPHER DAWSON. Hartlington.
A Gardener's Puzzle
SIR,—Apropos of the discussion between Mr. Eric Gill and Fr. D'Arcy, I am puzzled to know why collective ownership of industrial and/or agricultural products should be considered more essentially unChristian than the modern state of capitalism.
Suppose that I am head gardener to Mr. J. P. Morgan, at Wall Hall, Aldenham. In that position I, and the twenty or so men under me, are in differing degrees responsible for what the garden produces, but neither I nor they have any right to dispose of a single cabbage in it without Mr. Morgan's permission. I have not even the right to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction with a load of potatoes until I have written to ask Mr. Morgan—who lives in America (visiting his estate at rare intervals).
Now suppose there is a revolution in Great Britain, and Wall Hall is turned into a collective market garden, I should remain as gardener. I, and the twenty or so men under me, would still be responsible for what we produced : the only difference is that we should he working for the public good of the village of Aldenham and of Great Britain instead of for the private good of Mr. Morgan. Which is better, either in principle or in practice?
I know this is not an example of com
munal ownership applied to the urban situation, but the principle of collective ownership is applicable to all large scale work, rural as well as urban—and I only know about gardening.
Modern capitalism is rotten because it is founded not so much upon privilege as upon usury. Russian communism is rotten because it is founded upon a wrong conception of man's ultimate end.
But is communal ownership inseparable from atheism? That is what I want to know.
A. M. B.
Little Gables, Hawling, Nr. Cheltenham.
One Thing at a Time
SIR.—When two intellectual giants debate in print, it is surely for the benefit
of us ordinary folk. May we have one thing at a time?
1. Mr. Gill writes (near the end): " Nor um I concerned to discuss whether or no collective ownership by the workers necessarily involves its advocates in alliance with Moscow."
Father D'Arcy would appear to take Mr. (Al to mean "/ do not care whether or Ito, etc." and naturally, given this interpretation, attacks Mr. Gill upon the basis that, as a Catholic, either his reason or his will is at fault.
It would appear to me, however, that the passage above quoted is patient of the interpretation : "I do not propose to discuss here and now whether collective ownership by the workers does necessarily involve its advocates in alliance with Moscow or not ": and moreover Mr. Gill may well hold that it does not.
2. The rest of his letter (apart from the paragraph " Whether violence . . . Moscow ") would appear to he capable of summarisation thus: (a) At present we have collective ownership by the shareholders; or private property collectively owned by shareholders.
(b) His suggested alternative is collective ownership by the workers; or private property collectively owned by the workers.
It would seem a reasonable deduction that this may be brought about either by the present shareholders becoming the workers, or by the present workers becoming (somehow) possessed of sufficient capital to buy out the shareholders and thereby to own the means of their production.
Neither of these alternatives would appear to be in accord with the teaching of Marxianism, or to exist in Russia at the present time.
Mr. Eric Gill says: " How this can be brought about is a matter for politicians to decide."
Whilst it is clear that unless " the politicians to decide " are Catholics, there is grave risk that the workers might be called upon to barter their liberty to serve God in accord with the end for which they were created in exchange for material advantages, it is not clear that Mr. Gill is advocating a pact so entirely contrary to
right reason. Mr. Gill would seem to be challenging Catholic politicians to find a way.
J. R. R. TRtST.
120. Henleaze Road, Henleaze, Bristol.