SIR,—Captain Curd's reply to my letter follows very much the lines that I expected it to take. The question 1 put to him is, of course, again unanswered, for to speak of myself as an "orthodox economist of the old school " is ridiculous, since, to begin with. I am not an economist at all within the clear terms of the relevant definition.
However, I do not mind Captain Curd having a dig at me. I am much
more concerned at the whole trend which the movement " Towards " is apparently beginning to take. In the first place (this is relevant to the issue) I protest against this repeated jeering at the faculty of economists. There seems to exist among certain people an imaginary picture of an economist. He is represented as a sort of dervish, shouting incomprehensible incantations which are nevertheless of a perceptibly sadistic nature and as a being who always tends to interfere between man and his lawful happiness.
Catholics should be particularly careful to avoid this kind of misrepresentation, since exactly the same type of misrepresentation tends to be made about the theologian. Both travesties originate with people who have lacked either the time or the inclination to acquaint themselves with the branches of study in question and both are grotesque.
It is quite obvious to me that Captain Curd simply does not know what the science (if Fr. Drinkwater will pardon me) of economics is about and that the whole method and aim of economic inquiry is a, closed book to him. That is not to his discredit, but he should not pass judgments on what he has not troubled to study.
Captain Curd has now given a wider definition of what he wants under the heading of " Monetary Reform," hut T can only say that I am more fogged than ever. He took me to task for not dealing with this matter and now gives a definition of it which fits a whole series of proposals of mine that were actually printed in these pages.
There are, of course, two things usually criticised as faults of our present system of currency and credit. One is that the allocation of credit is not made on lines of the maximum social utility. This complaint is now generally accepted as well founded and my proposals, which may be sound or un sound, dealt with this very thing. Since, however, Captain Curd has not even bothered to notice them and still speaks as though I had made no contribution to this problem I can only conclude that he is concerned with another and much more dubious criticism, namely, that the volume of money (i.e., bank deposits and circulating currency) is allegedly insufficient for our needs and that its supply is maliciously restricted by conspiring bankers. That is a very debatable matter and if Captain Curd's demand for monetary reform reposes on this very precarious assumption it should certainly not form a fundamental part of a specifically Catholic or Christian programme. All this merely serves to strengthen my conviction that this movement, as it is now developing as a result of prejudices and preconceptions is not likely to serve any useful end and will merely bring the Catholic body into contempt. We are asked to subscribe to a number of propositions, some of which are highly Controversial and others, in my submission, meaningless. When we press for exact definitions we are left unsatisfied. There is no evidence of any desire to get down to moral bedrock in the formulation of ends, or to economic bedrock in the assessment of means and what Is worse, the help of those people who have the requisite training for the latter task is pushed aside, for it is obvious from his letter that the slur which Captain Curd passes on the so-called orthodox economists (whoever they may be) is intended really by him to apply to the faculty of professional economists as a whole, otherwise why the jibe at " salaried professors? " They would all apparently " have men conform to the existing economic system instead of etc., etc." In other words there are weaknesses in the economic order of which Captain Curd is aware, but of which the discovery has not been vouchsafed to the economists, or which, if it has been vouchsafed, they corruptly and maliciously conceal.
I cannot accept that view. The economic system is sick, but it is a living thing and like a sick body it needs the administrations of those who have made a professional studyof its working. I have no ground for supposing that those who have made such a study are either knaves or fools.
I am leaving a number of points of CaptaM Curd's and other contributors' unanswered, but I am already taking up too much space and as the gulf between Captain Curd and myself seems to be growing continually wider I would like if possible to retire from this discussion.
J. L. BENVENISTI.