GENERAL CONDEMNATION OF CAPITALISM Need It Lead To Flirting With Communism ?
Mr. Eric Gill's statements concerning the morality of Communism (published in the Catholic Herald, May 11.) have raised a hornets' nest. A great many letters treating with the subject have been received, and space permits the publication of only a few, which have been carefully selected in order to present every opinion.
It will be seen that in the case of one letter, at least, a Catholic has signed his name to a statement apparently in flat contradiction with Catholic teaching. in so far, it is of value as showing to what lengths people may be led if they venture to break away from the Church's guidance.
Ownership and Industrialism
can to some extent sympathise with Mr. Eric Gill's position, as it arises from a very deep concern for the present condition of the proletariat, a concern which I share with Mr. Gill but must beg to differ with him as to the manner in which their condition can be bettered and the workers restored to ownership.
The Catholic solution and incidentally the ideal solution is Distributism, but as Mr. Gill rightly points out, this is an industrial society and it would be impossible to return to pre-industrial r. editions, and for that reason alone Distributism under present conditions is not practical and must remain the ideal solution. However. if Mr. Gill had read a little further into Rerum Alf-martini he would have found the right solution and one that can he instantly applied to present industrial conditions, namely Pope Leo XIII's advocation of the Living Wage, i.e., a wage which will not only enable the worker comfortably to support himself, his wife, and his children, but over and above that something more which will enable him to practise thrift and eventually attain to some moderate ownership himself. There Mr. Gill is the manner in which the worker is to be raised from his present proletarian condition, and thereby attain to private property not because a " man cares for that which is his own " but because man is an individual and a child of God, and as such has a natural right to a share in the things God has provided him with in order to sustain himself on this earth.
That Mr. Gill is showing a tendency to sympathise with Communists Mild Advocating the socialist solution in preference to the Catholic principle of the I.iving Wage is greatly to be deplored; nevertheless we Catholics are to some extent to blame for this unfortunate state of affairs.
It is not enough for Pope Leo XIII to say that the "law should favour ownership"; it is up to us to put those words into practise and see that the law does favour ownership. Every Catholic has a vote and the strength of the Catholic vote has been exemplified only too well on the Education question.
Cannot something be done on the same lines with a view to Pope Leo's Living Wage being guaranteed to every worker by law. Incidentally we would he doing something to prove to the proletariat that the Catholic Church whose Founder was Himself a humble carpenter, is the friend of the worker and not the foe of the worker as the Communists are so busy making out. Living in an industrial sage it is up to us to proceed on industrial lines.
The Popes have spoken.
Until we have translated their words into action there is a grave danger of numerous workers following Mr. Eric Gill.
36, Seafield Avenue, Great Crosby, Liverpool, 23.
Main Point Side-Tracked
Srre—Mr. Gill has not answered the direct question of " Perplexus ": he sidetracked, and the other correspondents fell in the trap. The question at issue is this: how can a Catholic be a Communist, or even participate in any Communist undertaking? Mr. Gill has told us many things but evaded this plain question.
His opposition to capitalism is justified, but his arguments would gain in force if in practice he himself boycotted such ultra-capitalist and mechanised concerns as the Underground.
There is nothing to choose between capitalism and Communism, which is but capitalism in its worst and most inhuman form_ Mr. Gill may hold that " there is more real godlessness in the practice of capitalism than in the whole vaunted theory of Communism "—that is his private opinion which does not interest us. What does matter for Catholics is what the Church thinks of Communism. and none of us dare ignore the deliberate pronouncement of the Holy Father: "Communism is intrinsically wrong, and no one who would save Christian civilisation may collaborate with it in any undertaking whatsoever."
Those who imagine, as Mr. Gill obviously does, that Communism can be combined with Catholicism must bear in mind that not Pius XI only has declared that "no one can be at the same time a sincere Catholic and a true socialist," but on the other pole Stalin has repeatedly said practically the same thing. Quite recently he stressed the point again: "If you think of God and believe in him, you are guilty of treason against the revolution and communist dictatorship. I am an atheist myself and am convinced that atheism is a necessary stage leading to the true socialist conception of the world " (The Tablet, May 22, 1937). Ambiguity and compromise is disloyalty to both sides, the Church and . . comrade Stalin, for they are incompatible.
Mr. Gill will have to make his choice between Rome and Moscow as no sincere Catholic can be either a Communist or even collaborate with Communism as a friend of the U.S.S.R.