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Full text of "The Return of Christiandom"

THE RETURN OF 
CHRISTENDOM 

By 

A GROUP OF CHURCHMEN 

INTRODUCTION BY 

BISHOP GORE 

EPILOGUE BY 

G. K. CHESTERTON 




London: GEORGE ALLEN & UN WIN Ltd. 



'"pHIS book starts from the con- 
viction that the world is above 
ail in need of a unifying principle, 
for lack of which civilization is 
rapidly disintegrating, 

It urges that the discovery of 
this must involve the restoration 
in new forms of the mediaeval 
ideal of Christendom, and it finds 
implicit in the Catholic Faith the 
elements of a distinctive Christian 
sociology 



2ADY 










JOHN ML KELLY LIBDADY 




DONATED BY 



PETER W. MOORE 
1988 



THE RETURN OF 
CHRISTENDOM 



THE RETURN OF 
CHRISTENDOM 



BY 

A GROUP OF CHURCHMEN 

WITH AN INTRODUCTION BY 

BISHOP GORE 

AND AN EPILOGUE BY 

G. K. CHESTERTON 




LONDON: GEORGE ALLEN & UNWIN LTD. 
RUSKIN HOUSE, 40 MUSEUM STREET, W.C. i 



First published in 



(All rights reserved) 



Printed in Great Britain by 

UNWIN BROTHERS, LIMITED, THE GRESHAM PRESS, LONDON AND WOK1NG 



NOTE 

THOUGH the chapters composing this book have been in 
every case the subject of careful consultation between the 
writers concerned, and are in a real sense the fruit of their 
collaboration, the authors do not claim that their outlook 
is identical in every detail, and responsibility for statements 
made and views put forward in each chapter rests with the 
contributor of that chapter alone. 



CONTENTS 



PAGE 

INTRODUCTION 9 

BISHOP GORE 

CHAPTER 

I. THE IDEA OF CHRISTENDOM IN RELATION 

TO MODERN SOCIETY . . . .15 

M. B. RECKITT, M.A. 

II. THE RETURN OF DOGMA . . .41 

H. H. SLESSER 

III. THE NECESSITY OF CATHOLIC DOGMA . 63 

FR. L. S. THORNTON, M.A. 

IV. THE RETURN OF "THE KINGDOM OF GOD" 87 

REV. P. E. T. WIDDRINGTON 

V. THE MEDIEVAL THEORY OF SOCIAL ORDER 115 
REV. A. J. CARLYLE, D.LlTT. 

VI. THE OBSTACLE OF INDUSTRIALISM . . 127 

A. J. PENTY 

VII. THE MORALIZATION OF PROPERTY . . 151 

M. B. RECKITT, M.A. 

VIII. THE FAILURE OF MARXISM . . .185 

REV. NILES CARPENTER, M.A., PH.D. 

IX. THE KINGDOM OF GOD AND THE CHURCH 

TO-DAY 217 

FR. PAUL B. BULL. 

EPILOGUE 243 

G, K. CHESTERTON 

7 



INTRODUCTION 

THIS volume consists of essays written by a group of men 
who hold certain principles in common, and who have col- 
laborated I so as to give their essays a certain manifest 
continuity and unity of idea and aim. I shall perhaps best 
serve the purpose of this introduction if I endeavour to 
enumerate and describe these principles, which they hold 
in common, and some consequent conclusions. 

i. They are all Socialists 2 in a general sense, that is to 
say, they are all at one in believing that no stable or healthy 
industrial or social fabric can be built upon the principle 
of Individualism, or is consistent with the assertion of an 
almost unrestricted Right of Private Property. Accordingly, 
they hold that our present industrial society rests upon a 
rotten foundation ; and that what is needed to remedy the 
manifest " sickness " of our " Acquisitive Society," is some- 
thing much more than particular social reforms. There is 
needed the substitution of a true idea or principle of Society 
that is of Socialism in some sense for the false. What 
they ask for is such a peaceful and gradual revolution as 
can only come about if men's minds come to be so fully 
possessed with a certain set of ideas, which are now in the 

1 Perhaps I ought to say that the Fifth Essay (Dr. Carlyle's) has 
been contributed, so to speak, from outside, and that he should not 
be reckoned as belonging to the group. 

1 Dr. Carpenter prefers to be called a " Co-operationist," while 
some of the other contributors might choose to describe themselves as 
" Distributionists." None would accept the description "Socialist" 
save in its most general sense. 

9 



10 INTRODUCTION 

air, as that they shall gain compelling or driving power in 
practical affairs. 

2. But as a basis for social reconstruction they entirely 
repudiate the Marxian materialism, or the doctrine of the 
inevitable Class War and victory of the proletariat. Human 
affairs are not governed by mechanical laws and do not 
move towards necessarily determined conclusions. These 
writers would appeal to the freedom of the human spirit. 
If there is no change of spirit among men, the class war might 
proceed to revolution and to the victory of the proletariat, 
but it would not really ameliorate the lot of men or give 
them liberty. It would only substitute a bureaucratic 
tyranny for a plutocratic : and a revolution leading to dis- 
illusionments would bring reaction. Moreover, these writers 
would repudiate the ideal of Communism and the older 
ideal of State Socialism, as both of them tending to bureau- 
cracy and tyranny. They demand a form and ideal of 
society which shall secure for the individual his spiritual 
liberty, and such rights of " property for use " as this liberty 
and the maintenance of the family require. 

3. They feel the weakness of the Labour Movement in 
general, and in particular in Great Britain, owing to its lack 
of dominant and guiding principles, and its consequent 
incoherence and endless tendency to internal faction and 
division. 

4. They see the root and ground of the ideas of justice 
and brotherhood and the universal duty and joy of social 
service only in the Christian doctrine of God, as it was pro- 
claimed by the prophets of Israel and given its completion 
and universality in Jesus Christ ; and as it was entrusted 
to the Church to constitute the basis of its mission. In 
every element of this fundamental doctrine of God, of 
the Incarnation, of the Holy Spirit, of the ultimate victory 
of Christ, of the life eternal they see some strong guarantee, 
which exists nowhere else, for the ideas and principles which 



INTRODUCTION 11 

real social recovery constantly postulates. Nor would they 
be content with any presentation of religion as a mere system 
of doctrine. They see the visibly organized Church with its 
sacramental fellowship as belonging to the essence of the 
religion of the Incarnation. This organized Church is the 
Body of Christ. It is His organ and instrument for action 
in the world. It is commissioned not only to proclaim a 
truth but to live a social life. It exists not only to teach men 
the way, but to show it embodied before their eyes. In a 
word, these writers are both Christians and Catholics. 

Thus (5) they do not share the current fear of dogma in 
religion. I suppose they would admit that the dogmatic 
spirit may become excessive and tyrannical, and that the 
dogmatic authority needs the constant challenge of reason. 
But they perceive both that Christianity is nothing if not 
dogmatic that is, that it rests essentiaUy upon a message 
proclaimed to be divine and that every continuous human 
society, if it is to maintain any moral ideal, must rest upon 
a dogmatic basis, that is to say, it must be able to appeal 
to a certain groundwork of principles which are taken for 
granted. 

But (6), they do not disguise from themselves the de- 
plorable failure of the Church to exhibit the reality of 
brotherhood and to stand for its principles of justice and 
love. If one looks back to the early centuries one sees, 
indeed, brotherhood really taught and really lived. It was 
this exhibition of brotherhood that won the reverence of the 
world in spite of its prejudice against the Christians. And 
through all the period of the Middle Ages, though it is in 
vain to attempt to conceal from ourselves the very dark 
aspects of mediaeval practice, yet the Church held Europe 
in some real recognition of a fellowship, at once supernatural 
and super-national, to which all men and nations belonged 
or should belong, and in which all men were bound to justice 
and to the recognition of their spiritual equality before God. 



12 

But since the Reformation broke up the visible unity of the 
Church, and the spirit of individualism both in the churches 
of the Reformation and in the Catholic church obscured the 
doctrine of the Kingdom of God on earth, and made the 
Church appear as little else than a piece of spiritual machinery 
for saving the individual soul for another world, its social 
function throughout Europe has been almost forgotten. 
The fabric of Industrialism was built up in almost ah 1 European 
countries on a basis manifestly anti-Christian, almost without 
remonstrance from the Church. Now the fabric of Indus- 
trialism seems to be crumbling by its own inherent rotten- 
ness, and the cry for reconstruction is heard in all directions, 
but the principles on which alone reconstruction can be 
based and the spiritual force of which alone it can be accom- 
plished seem to be lacking. So it is that men of all kinds, 
however much alienated from " institutional religion," are 
looking, pathetically enough, towards the Church of Jesus 
Christ, and asking, in very varied tones of voice, what it 
can do for them in the Name of its Master : and meanwhile 
there are signs that the Church is waking from a long sleep 
and beginning to understand again what it means to pray 
constantly " Thy Kingdom come on earth." 

I detect differences amongst these writers, but if I have 
read the essays aright, I seem to see this body of common 
principles and conclusions animating them all, and leading 
them to make a double appeal, first to the Church to take 
its principles seriously and to " discern the signs of the 
times," and secondly, to the democracy to consider whether 
it be not true that there is no security for the principles to 
which it is blindly appealing, and no real hope of social 
salvation, save in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, 
the Son of God. 

It is because the point of view of these writers, and the 
principles on which their point of view is based, so urgently 
need presentation to the bewildered world of to-day, and 



INTRODUCTION 13 

are in themselves so profoundly worthy of consideration, 
that I have accepted the undeserved honour which they 
have offered me of introducing these essays to the public. 

They seem to me to make an arresting appeal. Obviously 
they intend to be provocative and challenging, and make 
no claim to completeness of treatment. They would wish 
me, I think, to call attention to this : and I will give some 
instances of omission. 

There is almost nothing about the international problem. 
Yet obviously it is impossible to deal effectively with social 
reconstruction or with industrial problems except on an 
international basis : and obviously we cannot even begin 
to think about the Church without recognizing that it is 
essentially an international or supernational society. These 
writers assure me that they are not blind to such considera- 
tions or lacking in zeal to emphasize them. Only it did 
not seem to be practicable to deal with them in these essays. 
Again, it is obvious that essays might have been written on 
the realization of the idea of brotherhood in the early Church, 
and on the system and character of the mediaeval Church, 
and on the connection between the diffusion of the Refor- 
mation doctrines and the rise of Modern Industrialism. But 
these topics have been thoroughly treated or are being 
treated elsewhere. 

Once more the question may be asked these writers, What 
in fact is the system and kind of industrial and economic 
reconstruction which you adumbrate ? You reject, it appears, 
Marxism, Communism, and the older form of State Socialism. 
What is it then that you contemplate ? There are hints 
given by several of the writers pointing towards Guild Socialism 
as the goal of their efforts. If I may speak on such a subject, 
though I am least of all an authority on economics, the 
advocates of Guild Socialism seem to me to have yet a great 
deal of thinking to do befoTe they can claim that Guild 
Socialism is a working proposal. And plainly in the book 



14 INTRODUCTION 

it is barely hinted at and not definitely proposed. That 
again is an omission. But books are of different kinds. 
There are books claiming to be comprehensive, systematic 
and complete. There are others which set out to be stimu- 
lating and suggestive. And the latter have as real a value 
as the former. And it is because, in the latter category, 
these essays seem to me to be forcible and appealing, that I 
commend them to the public. 

CHARLES GORE. 



THE IDEA OF CHRISTENDOM 
IN RELATION TO MODERN SOCIETY 

BY 

MAURICE B. RECKITT, M.A. 

Sometime Editor of The Church Socialist 



16 THE IDEA OF CHRISTENDOM 



SYNOPSIS 

I. In the world of to-day the idea of Christendom is obliterated : 
it is even absent from the teaching of the Church. 

It has been rendered incomprehensible by 

1. the subjection of the community to capitalist Industrialism, 

2. the distortion of property by plutocracy. 

These processes are not fortuitous in their origin ; they arose 
because the mediaeval standards of Vocation and Fraternity had 
been destroyed. 

Processes of their decay indicated. 

Industrialism testifies " sacramentally " to the moral hideousness 
of capitalism. 

Plutocracy degrades property from a means of livelihood and 
service into an instrument of avarice. 

The worship of gain becomes a religion ; its denial and frustration 
of Christian ideals and claims. 

II. The Church, however, has not yet revealed herself as the enemy 
of plutocracy. 

But the opportunity to do so may not much longer remain open 
to her ; for the capitalist system is threatening to collapse from its 
inherent rottenness. 

The War and the seeming inevitability of further world-wars 
has shattered the myth of a beneficent Progress ; shattered the 
stability of international capitalism ; shattered the belief in the purely 
political and disinterested character of the State by disclosing the 
interdependence of plutocracy and State-power. 

All these effects of the War have been confirmed by the nature of 
the " Peace." 

Finally, the result has been shattering to the complacency of 
thousands : this is not necessarily a bad thing, and may even prove 
a unique opportunity. Since if plutocracy's dominion holds so little 
promise, an alternative to it must be sought out and pursued. 

Hence men will turn naturally to those who already challenge 
capitalism the forces of " Labour." 

III. The stability of capitalism is not only impaired by its inherent 
rottenness and its loss of prestige, but for the further reason that 
the workers are increasingly organizing to transcend the status to 
which it condemns them. 

In view of Labour's resistance to it, capitalism has no future. Yet 
Labour, while strengthening its resistance, is bewildered and confused 
by the possibilities to which its successful opposition points. 



IN RELATION TO MODERN SOCIETY 17 

It is so because it lacks any constructive Idea adequate to embody 
and achieve its aspirations, hence it fears to find itself baffled by the 
very completeness of its opportunity. 

Its categories of thought and its spiritual values are fatally entangled 
with the ideology of capitalist society : this is true of both its reformist 
and revolutionary sections. Its intellectual subservience to the 
assumptions of a profiteering " economic science " render it incapable 
of developing a constructive programme. 

Yet the Labour movement is something we cannot disregard and 
of which we must never despair. For with all its limitations it is 

1. A reply to the pretensions of plutocracy; 

2. A real democracy ; 

3. Potentially, an engine of emancipation. 

IV. The Labour Movement is not, however, a co-ordinated whole. 
And the emergence of Bolshevism has accentuated and defined a 
sharp cleavage between " Labourism " and Communism. 

Though it may be at present inevitable that the workers should 
choose between these two sections, the choice is really one between 
two evils, for neither possess a true unifying principle. The official 
Labour formula of " workers by hand and brain," though useful for 
some immediate purposes, is inadequate. 

1. Its classification is quite unreal. 

2. It suggests dangers of perpetuating social caste. 

3. It implies the acceptance of capitalist criteria as to what consti- 

tutes socially valuable work. 

Fatal consequence of this. The alliance projected by official Labour 
is a political unification based on a common antagonism. 

It does not promise any secure basis for economic achievement or 
moral unity. 

The Labour programme is still quite inadequate, and its task 
wrongly envisaged. " Nationalization," " Politicalism," the " Leisure 
State," enclose its horizon ; and its activities are dissipated in indus- 
trial agitations within the " vicious circle " of capitalism. 

V. Bolshevism attempts to beat capitalism at its own game by 
mastering and improving upon capitalist methods. 

Its unifying principle is the " proletariat " ; and the basis of its 
social policy proletarian dictatorship. 

The conception of " proletarianism " : its false application of 
Equality ; its subjection of Liberty and Fraternity. 

" The circumference of capitalist organization becomes the centre 
of the new society." 

A free social order cannot be evolved from this inhuman distortion. 

But the vital objections to Bolshevism do not depend upon 
political considerations ; rather do they arise from its exclusively 

2 



18 THE IDEA OF CHRISTENDOM 

materialistic interpretation of the governing factors in society past 
and present. 

Illustrations of this in 

1. The Marxian view of History. 

2. The idea of " proletarian culture " with its glorification of 

the machine. " Cultural dictatorship." 

3. The attempt to find in psychology a basis for the dictatorship 

of " efficiency," and a justification for the " sweeping away 
of democratic lumber " in the name of a " sociological 
Calvinism." 

The " new world " of Communism would be founded on the old 
values of plutocracy. 

VI. The limitations of the Socialist idea. 

Dangers of its inelasticity illustrated by the failure to draw 
practical consequences from the moral distinction between " interest " 
and " profits." 

Yet the primary need of the workers' crusade is not any practical 
programme but the inspiration of an all-sufficing Idea. Only the 
conception of Christendom can supply this : in it men would find not 
only an ideal for the whole social order, but one which would restore 
to the individual the conviction of Vocation and a personal activity 
that could be offered to the glory of God. This ecclesiasticism can 
never supply within an antagonistic woild order. 

It is in this sense that society must " go forward from the Middle 
Ages," before men had proved unworthy of the ideal of Christendom. 

This ideal cannot be immediately recovered ; nor after centuries 
of social apostasy can the full implications of the Faith be made 
visible to the many while it is preached to them in theological forms. 

But by the construction of a new social order, built as a clear chal- 
lenge to plutocracy, an arena would be gradually created in which all 
men could come to the realization of the Kingdom of God, to which 
their efforts were making an infinitesimal, but vital, contribution. 



CHAPTER I 

THE IDEA OF CHRISTENDOM IN RELATION TO 
MODERN SOCIETY 



IF we were to ask what form of words came nearest to uniting 
those scattered and sundered bodies of men and women, 
who found in the life and death of Jesus Christ a revelation 
of the Divine purpose for the world, we should discover them 
in phrases which composed something that was neither 
a creed nor a prayer only, but essentially both. The Lord's 
Prayer is robbed of its great intention if it is used only as 
a string of individual petitions for the devout : it is the 
cry and best of all the common cry of souls who are 
citizens of the Lord's Kingdom. Yet a million times a 
day its clauses are framed by Christian men and women 
for whom some at least of them can have no immediate 
practical significance whatever. That God's Kingdom should 
come in order that His Will might be done in earth thereby, 
so that even here men might breathe in human society the 
breath of heaven for this is the Christian bidden to pray, 
even before he speaks of his daily bread. What can those 
words mean to those whose lives show them nothing but 
a morass of " business," or a wilderness of industrialism, 
equally surrendered to the dominion of plutocracy ? In 
the world of to-day the idea of Christendom is not even 
repudiated it is obliterated. It is not proclaimed in the 
market-place to inspire the faint or to confound the proud ; 



20 THE IDEA OF CHRISTENDOM 

it is still more fatally and strangely absent from our Churches, 
so that the Christian Faith, while it may remain a solace 
to the weak, seldom reveals itself as a challenge to the 
strong. 

The subjection of the community to capitalist industrialism 
and the distortion of property by plutocracy have made 
the very conception of Christendom not only unrealizable, 
but for the majority of men to-day even incomprehensible. 
They are not, as many seem to imagine, processes which 
have come about fortuitously, or for reasons which were 
beyond the power of society to control. They arose because, 
with the decay of the great mediaeval standards of vocation 
and fraternity, and the consequent corruption of the social 
institutions founded upon them, nothing remained to preserve 
the purpose of society as the glorification of God. Society 
a harmony of interwoven purposes, communally organized 
gave place to the State, with its monopoly of power for the 
glorification of its rulers, till the heresies of individualism 
came to take their intellectual vengeance for the suppressed 
truth of the claims of human personality. The cry went 
forth for freedom, economic no less than political ; but it 
was a freedom conceived not as a social means, but as a 
personal end, an " absolute value," an opportunity for the 
glorification of man or, to be more precise, for the glorifica- 
tion of a certain kind of man. For it was a freedom to 
excel each other without restraint that men were in fact 
claiming, not a freedom to contribute to any common 
purpose ; and this precisely at a time when the opportunity 
of the energetic and the avaricious was being almost miracu- 
lously enlarged by discoveries which offered to such men, 
not only new powers over natural resources, but new and 
terrible tyrannies over their fellows. The Industrial Revolu- 
tion the most ruthless of all revolutions carried its 
devastations across a society that had lost all traces of the 
old defences of Vocation and Fraternity, which it is only 



IN RELATION TO MODERN SOCIETY 21 

now attempting painfully to restore in their secular forms 
of Function and Solidarity. 

Industrialism could never have taken the hideous forms 
it has done if mechanical discovery had developed in a 
society founded on free associations and corporate ideals. 
As one travels through some " black country," or slum- 
begirt factoryland, wherein what we count as wealth is 
distilled (though scarcely shared), the very surroundings 
seem to testify, as it were sacramentally, to the moral 
impossibility of plutocracy ; we look upon the outward and 
visible signs of an inward and spiritual disgrace. Nor is it 
only the processes of industry, or the status of its poor 
prisoners, that the triumph of plutocracy has distorted; it 
has turned property from an institution contributing to social 
health into a dangerous disease, by transforming the deadly 
sin of avarice into the haughty virtue of " enterprise." For 
property has sunk from being a means whereby a livelihood 
was made in the service of society, into an instrument whereby 
money and power are amassed by the exploitation of society 
and the bulk of those who work. Hence " the degradation 
of the worker follows inevitably from the refusal of men to 
give the purpose of industry the first place in their thought 
of it." * 

Into a social order so compounded how can God's Kingdom 
come ? By what means even can the very idea of Christen- 
dom return ? Plutocracy (and the capitalist fabric through 
which it operates) does not merely constitute a force hostile 
to religion : it is a religion. 2 When we ask at the death of 
its great devotees how much they died worth, we are inquiring 
(and often appropriately enough) of nothing else about them 

1 The Sickness of an Acquisitive Society, by R. H. Tawney, p. 20. 

* " Our holidays are not fixed by Saints' days or to commemorate 
events from the (truly) rich part of our history, but they are bank 
holidays. The closing of our banks is the one signal that for twenty- 
four hours we are free." The Camel and the Needle's Eye, by A. 
Ponsonby, p. 30. 



22 THE IDEA OF CHRISTENDOM 

than the amount of financial power they had contrived to 
obtain. Nor is it at death only that this religion enforces 
its claims, nor by its elect exclusively that it demands to 
be acknowledged. It disputes with the Church of Christ for 
the destiny of its children. At the moment when the boy (or 
girl) in a working-class parish is being urged to make recogni- 
tion of the tremendous claims made for him at his baptism, 
he is going forth into a world which by every manifestation 
of its public life promptly denies and frustrates every one 
of them, and makes plain his fate as a member of the prole- 
tariat, the child of Mammon and the inheritor (if he lives 
long enough) of nothing but the servile dole of an old-age 
pension. How can the priest bid the wage-slave commend 
his vocation to God, or serve faithfully a Fraternity in which 
he has neither status nor honour ? He cannot find these 
things in his work : but till he can do so, the Church which 
sends him forth can never rightly be other than a foe to the 
social order which so tragically engulfs him. 



II 

The Church, however, has still to reveal herself as the 
enemy of plutocracy, and it is only with the recovery of the 
ideal of Christendom that she will be able to stand forth 
with an ideal worthy of her mission to the world she is called 
to redeem. But the opportunity is one that may not remain 
open much longer. The capitalist system, in which pluto- 
cracy's dominion is embodied, has for long been challenged, 
more or less ineffectively, by those whom it exploits ; but 
it is not only, nor even mainly, for this reason that its 
control over society is breaking down. It is threatening to 
crumble because of its own essential instability, and because 
to use the old political phrase in a far more crucial connec- 
tion it is " losing the confidence of the country." These 
tendencies, discernible a dozen years ago, have been 



IN RELATION TO MODERN SOCIETY 23 

enormously accelerated by the War, the more vital effects 
of which are only gradually becoming obvious. And the 
more obvious they become, the more shattering we perceive 
them to be. In the first place the War has shattered the 
myth of a beneficent and almost inevitable Progress, on 
which the reformers of nearly every school had previously 
founded their faith. To those who look deep enough and 
there are many already who have done so it has become 
clear that the whole of our interdependent civilization is 
exposed to the liability of war by the very nature of the 
economic system which so precariously binds it together. 
Some even are found to declare that the clash of expand- 
ing and competing plutocracies, in desperate quest of that 
" effective demand " which their financial operations result 
only in extinguishing in their home markets, will be hurled 
forward into further conflagrations, for which their scientific 
and mechanical " progress " equips them each year more 
hideously. It is no " far-off divine event," as the Victorians 
believed, but rather the imminent and hellish menace of 
successive world-wars to which the whole capitalist creation 
moves. 

Progress, even in the servile forms in which the Liberal 
optimists of yesterday conceived it, demands international 
peace, and not peace only, but international stability. That 
stability which so far as it then existed the War shattered, 
the formal and nominal peace succeeding it has not restored. 
Capitalist industrialism has lost every veneer of stability ; 
its cosmopolitan fabric is everywhere cracking, and has at 
many points altogether collapsed. The foreign exchanges 
and world markets appear irremediably dislocated : their 
recovery seems impossible, since what the recklessness of 
Potsdam began, the recklessness of Versailles would appear 
to have confirmed. The Europe of 1914 may have been 
a vulgar mansion, none too securely founded, and in a style 
little to our taste, but its owners at least succeeded in keeping 



24 THE IDEA OF CHRISTENDOM 

the wolf from the door. To-day the ravenous animal is 
invited to ransack its dilapidated basements, while what 
is left of the family seeks desperately to imitate its old 
prosperity in a few rooms on the upper floor. 

When the hope of Progress and the assurance of stability 
are shattered, what remains of the beliefs by which men 
were sustained amid the doubts and difficulties of pre-war 
days ? Little enough perhaps ; but while men believed in 
the purely political and essentially disinterested character 
of the State, and of the Government through which its powers 
were administered in the common interest, they felt their 
feet on solid ground. The State, at any rate, men felt, did 
stand for the common good. State officers could be trusted 
to act impartially ; by State action social change could be 
achieved ; and the influence of wealth or commercialism 
would be powerless to frustrate or distort any political 
decision. It would be too much to say that this creed has 
been shattered, but it has certainly been undermined by 
the political tendencies of the last few years, which have 
revealed to many, who never before perceived it, the inter- 
dependence of plutocracy and State power. It is more 
than seventy years ago that the Communist Manifesto declared 
the State to be essentially " but an executive committee for 
the administering the affairs of the whole bourgeoisie." 
The description is at the least a misleading one, and 
however true, it was at no time the whole truth ; but it 
has never come to being so near the whole truth in England 
as is the case to-day. 1 The suspicion of this is steadily gaining 
ground, and under its shadow many for whom the State 
and its governors represented an authority which they felt 
they could safely revere without danger of superstition, find 

1 Any reader who may be interested to discover what is the view 
of the present writer as to the true role of the State, will find that 
view set out in The Meaning of National Guilds (1920 edition), 
chapter vii. 



IN RELATION TO MODERN SOCIETY 25 

themselves dismayed and at a loss whither to turn for the 
recovery of that sense of security without which men fall 
victims to social panic or the apathy of despair. 

These effects of the War and of the Peace have been 
shattering indeed ; shattering to the complacency of thousands 
who face " the new world after the War " with disillusion 
and apprehension, feeling it to be set upon shifting sands. 
That the complacency of our people should be shattered is 
by no means in itself a bad thing ; indeed it may prove 
itself the very thing for which the situation is calling 
the conviction of social sin, or at least of social failure, which 
may lead on to new social values. 1 People are feeling, as 
they have never felt for many centuries, that nothing is 
too bad to happen : it is the urgent and vital task of those 
who lift their voice to-day to make people feel that if they 
do but will it and work for it, nothing is too good to happen. 
There was never a crisis that was not also an opportunity. 
The very fact that men no longer accept as till lately they 
did almost unanimously accept the belief that plutocracy 
is in the nature of things, in itself offers a great opportunity ; 
for it leads them to reflect that if its further development is 
not inevitable, an alternative can be found and pursued 
and, what is more, to suspect that it must be if society 
is not to fall into dissolution. Where can they turn but 
to those whose challenge to plutocracy has been already 
uttered ; to the forces of " Labour," who speak already of 
a " new social order," though tangled so closely in the 
meshes of the old one ? On those forces, then, will fall first 
the weight of this great opportunity : and all who have the 
courage to prepare for change must ask whether Labour has 

1 At the same time, the writer has no wish to minimize the reality 
of the danger, which such disillusion as men have experienced 
certainly creates, in spreading so great a degree of apathy, and even 
despair, as to make it impossible to mobilize their enthusiasm and 
activity for any effort towards social change. 



26 THE IDEA OF CHRISTENDOM 

the true values and unifying principles which alone can 
make it great enough for its task. 



Ill 

We have already seen the crisis to which capitalist industry 
has come as a result of that inherent instability which the 
War has so fatally accentuated, and from the loss of prestige 
which it has clearly sustained in the public estimation. But 
even if these causes were absent, its efficiency and even its 
continued existence would be threatened for the further 
one that the workers, on whom it depends, are increasingly 
organized not merely to maintain their status and condition 
of life, but to transcend that status altogether. The assump- 
tion that " Labour " should be, and can be, expected to 
remain a passive instrument for the purposes of wealth 
exploitation, involves an utter denial of the workers' person- 
ality and initiative, not only individually, but as expressed 
corporately through their industrial associations, which are 
condemned to remain irresponsible and divorced from all 
control (save in certain negative aspects) over the industries 
they cover. This assumption, however, is one that plutocracy 
is no longer safe in making ; and in view of Laboui 's resist- 
ance to it, the capitalist organization of industry has no 
future ; the theory of the " class-struggle " stiffens into a 
fact ; and the community is in danger of a hopeless 
dislocation in supply. Yet Labour, confronted by the crisis 
its resistance has thus contributed to provoke, is bewildered 
and confused. Condemned as it has been for a century and 
a half subjection to industrialism, and accustomed only 
to the r61e of opposition, the workers, called by the urgency 
of the moment to take the leap from a rebellious passivity 
to responsible leadership, find themselves almost helpless, 
and even apprehensive of the very catastrophe which they 
have so long professed to desire. And they are so because 



IN RELATION TO MODERN SOCIETY 27 

they perceive that without the rapid development of a great 
alternative, the " destruction of capitalism " will mean 
the destruction of society. 

It is the lack, not of " ideas " for with these Labour is 
plentifully spoonfed by its " intelligentsia " but of an Idea 
adequate to embod)'' and achieve its aspirations that gives 
to the less irresponsible sections of that movement the 
lurking doubt that it may be baffled by the very completeness 
of its opportunity to triumph. True, its leaders whistle 
shrilly enough in their political manifestos and industrial 
orations to keep up the courage of their followers and their 
own. But such " public opinion " as tends to sympathize 
with them is not greatly impressed, and a just suspicion is 
abroad that while Labour repudiates the moral claims of 
capitalism, it does not repudiate (and, indeed, has largely 
failed to appreciate) the materialist basis on which they are 
founded. Many of the spiritual values, and whole categories 
of thought whether reformist or " Bolshevist " now 
prevailing in the Labour Movement are fundamentally similar 
to those of capitalism. Labour's projected alternatives to 
capitalism are not in many vital respects contradictions of 
its basis and principles, but either modifications or inversions 
of them. Their application would change the architectural 
plan of society by the introduction of new features which 
could not, hi fact, be grafted successfully on to the original 
structure ; or they would destroy the whole and make what 
might appear a fresh start. At best, however, it would be 
but a fresh start on the same old foundations, and attempted 
with the same bricks. 

This failure of Labour sufficiently to disentangle itself 
from the ideas and assumptions on which plutocracy ^has 
raised its wretched social structure is partly moral (as 
will be further made clear in later sections), and partly 
and consequently intellectual. The political philosophy of 
Labour (so far as it has one), for all its Socialist tendencies, 



28 THE IDEA OF CHRISTENDOM 

rests very largely on the individualist fallacies which gave 
to the pioneers of capitalism their sanction and their oppor- 
tunity. The affirmation of rights, rather than the acceptance 
of functions, is still too often made the precarious basis 
of Labour's claims ; and " freedom " eternally elusive if 
sought for its own sake is imagined as the goal of a new 
and delicately-elaborated social order, instead of being under- 
stood as the inevitable by-product of a just one. In more 
practical respects, too, Labour is still intellectually the 
slave of its social governors. The hypotheses on which 
plutocratic society founds its operations many of them 
illusions, and some of them monstrous fallacies still masque- 
rade successfully before the workers in the guise of economic 
science. That credit must necessarily be based on securities 
which only capitalists can offer ; that " increased production " 
must in itself and regardless of its nature inevitably be of 
economic benefit to the whole community ; that purchasing- 
power should only be distributed in return for work ; that 
the multiplication of machinery is a sign, and even a condition, 
of economic progress ; that prices must for ever serve as 
the " automatic register of the relation between the supply 
of goods and the supply of money " ; that the worker must 
continue to receive his remuneration in the form of a wage ; 
all these fatal assumptions, and many others, are accepted 
almost unquestionably in the Labour movement without a 
glimpse of the truth that while they remain unchallenged, 
and even unexamined, no constructive economic policy can 
possibly be developed capable of countering the dominion 
which plutocracy, by maintaining such superstitions, is 
enabled to preserve. 

But whatever the magnitude of its failure morally and 
intellectually to rise to the height which the occasion 
demands, the Labour Movement cannot possibly be set on 
one side, and we must never despair of it. For that move- 
ment embodies, when all is said, three vital things. It is 



IN RELATION TO MODERN SOCIETY 29 

essentially a reply to the pretensions of plutocracy, and has 
grown up, as nothing else in our society has done, in order 
to resist them. It is, further, on the whole, a real democracy 
amid the shams and shadows of political forms. And, 
finally, it is already in a measure an engine of emancipation, 
capable, could it but find a true unifying principle and a 
programme really constructive, of forming the nucleus of a 
noble social order. But with all its rapid expansion in 
numbers and in scope, and even (in certain directions) in 
policy and in ideas, the Labour Movement still fails to 
perceive that its real task is to come to the rescue of society, 
and not to intervene only with the effect of dislocating it. 
A policy of merely frustrating capitalism will destroy the 
momentum of industry, without providing any unifying 
principle or apparatus of organization capable of bringing 
a " new social order " out of the chaos thus created. A true 
social policy for to-day would appeal to the best that was 
in the heart and mind of men in every stratum of society 
not perhaps for identical reasons, but as tending to an 
identical aim. We have to ask whether either official 
" Labourism " or Bolshevism provides this, and if not, where 
else its elements are to be sought and found. 

IV 

We have spoken of the Labour Movement in the previous 
section as if the multitudinous efforts put forward by and 
on behalf of the working masses could be considered as part 
of a co-ordinated whole ; but it would be difficult at a closer 
inspection to find those efforts united by common principles 
or common aims, or, indeed, by anything but a few catch- 
phrases expressing hostility to " capitalism." Certain broad 
lines of cleavage within '" the ranks of Labour" are indeed 
clear, and becoming clearer ; but there has up till recently 
been a tendency, in this country at any rate, to consider a 



30 THE IDEA OF CHRISTENDOM 

few stereotyped phrases as sufficiently indicating the goal 
to be aimed at, and to treat the " Right," " Left," and 
" Centre " as if they were part of a football team, each urging 
forward the ball of progress by their own method when it 
happened to come their way. To-day Bolshevik theory and 
the Communist fact of Soviet Russia are rapidly dispelling 
this very characteristic illusion, and competing " Inter- 
nationals " growl at one another with a ferocity which 
Socialists had generally reserved for " the master class." 
Despite the formation of " centre parties " for building 
bridges to span gulfs quite unbridgable, the main lines of 
division in policy and principle are clear enough ; and the 
rank and file have to choose, if not this day, at any rate 
very soon, whether they will serve " official Labour " or the 
Communism which has its far from spiritual home in 
Moscow. 

The choice appears for the moment inevitable, but it does 
not any the less present itself to us as other than a choice 
between two evils. Neither movement can offer us a unifying 
principle worthy of the name. It is true that each believes 
firmly enough that it possesses such a thing. " Official 
Labour " is a curious and obviously transitional compound 
of a jealously proletarian but largely defensive Trade 
Unionism and a theoretically " national " political party 
with the largest ambitions. But a formula is believed to 
have been found capable of developing this unwieldy struc- 
ture into an impressive force. This formula is that in 
which Labour politicians appeal to " workers by hand and 
brain " to make alliance in the common cause of ending 
their servitude, and that of society, to the capitalist exploiter. 
The phrase is a specious one : there is, indeed, much belated 
commonsense in the appeal ; but it may justly be doubted 
whether it will accomplish the miracles of social transforma- 
tion which seem to be expected of it. 

We need not stop to discuss the doubtful value of an 



IN RELATION TO MODERN SOCIETY 31 

implied distinction between workers by hand and by brain, 
for clearly no one could be an efficient worker of any sort 
without the use of both constantly, and often simultaneously ; 
nor stay to inquire into which classification the skilled 
mechanic or the drudge on an office stool ought respectively 
to fall. Dangers of perpetuating social caste are not absent 
from the application of this formula ; but its essential failure 
lies in its implied acceptance of capitalist criteria as to what 
constitutes socially valuable work. If those who challenge 
the economic organization of capitalism do so merely as 
" workers," then limitations of outlook, and even considera- 
tions of immediate self-interest, may forbid them to inquire 
too closely whether the particular work, on which the main- 
tenance of their economic position appears to depend, is 
valid or justifiable at all from the standpoint of the general 
interest. Yet not until issues of this sort are fearlessly 
raised can the economic dominion of plutocracy be seriously 
shaken, and its dictation of industrial policy meet with 
effective reply. When the enormous scope of luxury produc- 
tion, the number of " parasitic " occupations, and the 
dissipation of human energies into channels of waste are 
remembered, it may be realized how many of the country's 
busiest " workers " would find their immediate economic 
interests seeming to lie rather with the maintenance of 
plutocracy than with any programme which seriously 
threatened to disturb it. This is, of course, particularly 
true of those " middle-class " hirelings of capitalist industry, 
for whose support official Labour is now sedulously angling. 
They may be gained for a political unification based on a 
common antagonism, until that opposition is faced with the 
prospect of effecting a constructive change which shall not 
damage the vested interests of any of its component parts. 
But once embarked on any honest effort to bring into being 
a " new social order," the imposing forces of Labour will 
melt away in acrimonious confusion. And this for the 



82 THE IDEA OF CHRISTENDOM 

reason that no basis has been found for economic achieve- 
ment or moral unity in the pursuit of a common purpose. 

The force of circumstances, and an energetic propaganda, 
have combined during the last ten years to effect most impor- 
tant modifications in the complacent evolutionary collectivism 
which was for so long the whole social Gospel of official 
Labourism. But beliefs so traditional die hard, and new 
phraseology has not in itself gone far to create a new men- 
tality. " Nationalization " still represents a panacea to a 
Labour movement with scarcely a vestige of control over 
" the representatives of the nation," political or bureaucratic, 
and therefore with scant prospect of rendering " control by 
the workers " effective, even if it should be nominally con- 
ceded. Vast promises are made by Labour politicians of 
the blessing which the workers can confidently expect will 
they but return them to power. But no clear recognition 
is shown of the fact that political methods, however necessary 
or valuable, are essentially passive so far as the masses are 
concerned, and cannot in any event do anything considerable 
to stimulate the initiative or prepare the democratic achieve- 
ments on which alone a free society can be securely founded. 
Similarly, the goal of the " Leisure State " obscures the 
truth that such a free society is impossible unless men are 
consciously and positively free in the performance of their 
work, and not merely in their spare time. Only work done 
in an atmosphere of freedom can be done for its own sake, 
and a noble social order could not be content to apply any 
lesser criterion to the preponderant majority of its industrial 
activities. " Liberty " in the abstract is still the dream of 
the sentimentalists of Labour, when what they ought rather 
to be striving for is the achievement of definite liberties, 
through the attainment of which true liberty can alone be 
established or even by the majority apprehended. But in 
place of this the actual struggles of the workers are far too 
exclusively concentrated round the issues of wages and hours, 



IN RELATION TO MODERN SOCIETY 33 

which leave them groping in a fog of materialism, and going 
round in circles as men do in fogs the vicious circles to 
which the economic dominion of plutocracy condemns the 
futilities of industrial agitation. 



Bolshevism is the nemesis of sentimental Socialism. Its 
theorists perceive the futility of " democracy " and " liberty," 
as the Labourites have been content to interpret them, and 
they set out to solve the problem (as it presents itself to 
them) of how to beat capitalism at its own game. That game 
of tyranny over personality and contempt for human will, 
they declare, is one that two can play, and its " bourgeois " 
devisers will live to meet their match in the forces of a 
Marx-conscious proletariat. The Bolshevik conception of 
the " proletariat " is its fundamental unifying principle, as 
is the " dictatorship " of that proletariat the uncompromising 
basis of its social policy. It is with these blazing torches 
that Bolshevism and its " third International " have aspired 
to kindle the fires of the World Revolution, and they have 
already flared wildly enough to dazzle the eyes of the 
wage-slaves of industrialism everywhere. 

The Communist experiment which has followed on the 
collapse of the old social fabric in Russia and incorporated 
not a few of its most evil features has raised a storm of 
some of the most unscrupulous controversy (on both sides) 
in the history of politics. It is outside our purpose here to 
venture into that storm, but the political theory of the new 
Communism is too compelling in its challenge to be anywhere 
disregarded altogether. 1 We can but comment on a few of 
its implications and manifestations in order to support our 

1 The social and economic tenets of Marxism, by which contempo- 
rary Communism is inspired, are closely examined in Chapter VIII 
of this volume. 

8 



34 THE IDEA OF CHRISTENDOM 

conviction that it is not in this direction that we can look 
for the Idea in the strength of which society may be 
redeemed. Its guiding principle of " proletarianism," though 
the term means something very different from the mass- 
democracy which the innocent might imagine to be implied 
in it, is a conception not difficult to grasp. It involves the 
acceptance by a " class-conscious " and rigidly organized 
minority of a mission to drive society forward by every 
means (and without staying for a moment more of persuasion 
or propaganda than shall be necessary for the attainment of 
the required power), into a condition of life in which by the 
surrender of initiative to a handful of dictators, the equitable 
distribution of social resources can be achieved. Equality 
is imposed on the mass and not discovered by them ; 
liberty of action and expression is obliterated for opponents, 
and discreetly " rationed " to those who consent to the expe- 
riment ; fraternity in trade union and functional association 
of every kind is suffered only beneath the all-pervading 
supervision of the omnipotent Centre. 

Such being the methods of Bolshevik proletarianism, it is 
unnecessary to discuss how far its ultimate aims harmonize 
with a true ideal of social democracy, since to us it seems 
self-evident that no such ideal could possibly be realized by 
them. The desperate diseases by which the old Russian 
civilization was stricken may have demanded desperate 
remedies ; but on communities from which the elements of 
health are not absent altogether, proletarianism can act 
only as a poison. Applied to our own society, the conception 
of the " proletariat " is in every respect inadequate as a 
unifying principle. Many of the most essential elements, 
whole classes as we know them to-day, cannot be made to 
fit into it ; or if they are so fitted, it is a violation of their 
legitimate character and traditions. Proletarianism involves 
isolation of and concentration upon the least human and 
truly normal of all forms of social status, with the result 



IN RELATION TO MODERN SOCIETY 85 

that the " proletariat " being taken as the centre of all, 
there follows a distortion of everything. The circumference 
of capitalist organization becomes the centre of the new 
society. But proletarian dictatorship can never be citizen 
rule, nor even tend towards it ; it is at best a rule in the 
interest of slaves, and in its working likely to operate as a 
more direct and concentrated rule over them. It destroys 
not only the idea of liberty, but the actual social autonomies 
within society in which men's liberties have been slowly 
discovered and substantiated, and without which civil liberty 
itself becomes a shadow. 

But the vital objections to the Bolshevik principles and 
programme are more fundamental even than this, and do 
not depend upon political considerations at all. They arise 
from the Bolshevik claim to find in a " materialist interpreta- 
tion " of the governing factors in society, past and present, 
a sufficient analysis of the social problem. We cannot treat 
here of so large a claim otherwise than by affirming a direct 
denial of it. Without a spiritual conception of individual 
destiny and social association underlying all, no movement 
can lead (as even Bolshevism claims that it will some day 
lead) to any true emancipation ; for the application of such 
a test is the only standard and the only guarantee sufficient 
to establish such an achievement and to maintain it. But 
Bolshevism, in reaction against the illusions of a purely 
subjective " freedom " and a beneficent " progress," takes 
its stand not as a valid theory must do on objective rights 
and social will, but on objective facts and material power. 

The full implications of this fundamental error have not 
been generally perceived, even by Bolsheviks themselves, 
but they are remarkable indeed. History, Art in all its 
branches, even the developing science of Psychology, are 
all subjected to the interpretations of Materialism. Marxian 
and neo-Marxian distortions of historical development are 
tolerably familiar ; but it comes as something of a shock 



36 THE IDEA OF CHRISTENDOM 

to learn from a Bolshevik literary critic that " the road to 
the conquest of the world by the proletariat is indissolubly 
bound up with the growth of machinery production." An 
almost insane glorification of the machine becomes the 
burden of the new " proletarian culture " which has lately 
arisen in Soviet Russia. The machine becomes the centre 
of society, and its existence determines not merely the 
character, but even the motive of it. " The machine," says 
a Bolshevik critic, 1 "is not a soulless object ; it is the living 
clot of the collective energy of workmen, which goes on living 
in all departments of production and serves as an inviting 
stimulus for the living proletariat in their further work. 
The machine regulates the relation of the workmen, their 
conduct, assigns to them definite tasks ... in her they 
live. Her development is the development of the proletariat, 
the triumph of the machine is indissolubly bound up with 
the triumph of the workmen." A Bolshevik poem speaks 
of " a new iron blood " pouring into the workers' veins. 
And it is proclaimed to the world that " the proletariat has 
realized that the strength of its revolution consists not alone 
in a political and military dictatorship, but also in a cultural 
dictatorship." 

But Historical and Cultural Materialism are less likely to 
prove dangerous in their practical effect, than the attempt 
to discover in psychology a basis for the dictatorship of 
" efficiency, " as judged by Marxian standards, over " the 
great dull and indifferent majority." In an extraordinary 
and very sinister article appearing recently in a British 
" proletarian " journal, 2 the author seeks, with an assiduity 
worthy of the blackest " reactionary," to find in psycho- 



1 See four remarkable articles on " Proletarian Culture," by John 
Cournos, in The New Europe, vol. xiii. October-November 1919, 
from which the following quotations are taken. 

* The Plebs Magazine, October 1920, " The Mechanism of the 
Mind," by " Nordicus." 



IN RELATION TO MODERN SOCIETY 37 

logical experiment a ground for the final repudiation of the 
very idea of democracy. "It is for the scientific Socialist 
to brush aside sentimental considerations," he concludes, 
" and plan how, in the new society the interests of these dull 
People shall be safeguarded, while at the same time their 
reactionary and deadening influence on creative policy, and 
in all matters involving a long view and the acceptance of 
new ideas, is eliminated." Contempt for the claims of human 
personality could hardly be more brutally expressed by a 
member of our present governing classes. If the Bolsheviks 
should succeed in putting down the mighty from their seats, 
it would only be to fill those seats again themselves. Their 
despotism might be benevolent, but the humble and meek 
would not find themselves exalted, in spirit or in station ; 
they would remain where they are. The " sweeping away 
of democratic lumber," which the Bolshevik proclaims in 
the name of a purely intellectual revelation, would result in 
a " sociological Calvinism " the rule of those " saved " by 
their understanding of a materialist interpretation of social 
phenomena over " the great dull and indifferent majority." 
This is the new world of Communism a new world founded 
on the old values, with fresh labels and a fresh tyranny to 
interpret them. 

VI 

The power of the Socialist idea is undeniable. Under its 
influence there has risen, perhaps, the most noble secular 
movement that has succeeded in thrusting itself through the 
arid soil of the modern world. But not here can we recog- 
nize that Tree of Life, whose leaves are for the healing of 
the nations. Neither " Labourism " nor Bolshevism offers 
a rallying ground for those who, while convinced of the 
moral impossibility and economic futility of plutocracy, are 
not " Progressive " nor Materialist in their outlook. The 
prestige of capitalism is steadily sinking, and its glaring 



38 THE IDEA OF CHRISTENDOM 

Inefficiency as a means of supplying society with its elementary 
needs, spiritual and material, is becoming more strikingly 
obvious as it moves towards its perilous culmination. But 
men do not know where to turn for a social principle stronger 
and more attractive than that of individual " enterprise " 
expressing its success by the accumulation of private gain. 
A doctrinaire rigidity of formula on the part of the opponents 
of plutocracy blinds them to the essentials of that hideous 
philosophy, so that they are unable to perceive the moral 
and practical significance of the distinction between its 
normal, but venial, defects, and its desperate excesses, which 
translate into virtue a sin deadly alike to those who indulge 
it and those who are its victims. " Interest " may form an 
unjustifiable and an ultimately intolerable toll * : " profits " 
are the incentive and the goal of an unappeasable avarice. 
The elimination of " profits " is an important step to the 
emancipation of labour, and a step that the workers might 
well proceed to take, if, instead of bickering with the owners 
of capital while remaining employed by them, they would 
more generally contrive means to employ capital, which 
would enable them to embark on responsible tasks and 
experiments. 3 

But though the workers' assaults on plutocracy are in 
many respects badly conceived and dissipated in pathetic 
futilities, it is not any " practical programme " merely which 
can wholly restore by a new inspiration the fortunes of their 
desperate crusade. Only the conception of Christendom, the 
clear vision of a society in which the free activities of men 
are gathered together to create a social order which can be 
offered as a gift to the glory of God, can achieve this. In 

1 On the other hand, it is not impossible to find very valuable 
social implications in the universalizing of the dividend system. For 
the views of the present writer on this subject see Chapter VII. 

This policy has already been embraced by the guilds newly formed 
in building and agriculture. 



IN RELATION TO MODERN SOCIETY 89 

such a society not only would the whole social order be such 
as man could feel to be worthy of God's purpose for mankind, 
but every individual in it could commend his personal 
activity to the Lord and Father of all, as affording him at 
least the opportunity to give the best that he could offer. 
The kingdom of God would then arise to embody for the 
first time a truly adequate conception of Vocation to its 
citizens, such as the mass of Christian folk, however faithful 
or devout, can never realize within a plutocracy, or indeed 
any other tyranny, communist or otherwise. The human soul 
would find thereby a fold to which it could at last return, 
and such as the most exalted ecclesiasticism could never 
supply while it remained within an antagonistic world order. 
It is in this sense that the ideals and even the achieve- 
ments of Medievalism, for all their enormous imperfections, 
offer us a pattern so inspiring, an example so unique. We 
cannot, we would not if we could, " go back to the Middle 
Ages," but it is from the nobler efforts of the Middle Ages 
that we should seek to go forward, from the days before men 
had proved unworthy of the ideal of Christendom, and before 
the time when in fleeing from its corruptions they attained 
no new fellowship, but only " the isolation of the human 
soul." That ideal is one which cannot be immediately 
recovered : England cannot be recovered for the Faith by 
any wholesale " conversion." After some five centuries of 
"egocentric" social organization, culminating in one hundred 
and fifty years of plutocratic industrialism, its spiritual truths 
cannot be apprehended by the masses when preached to them 
in theological form. Nor is it easier to awaken the pious 
from a somnolent orthodoxy to the implications of the 
tremendous task to which, by their profession of their creed, 
they are committed. But in the process of constructing a 
society built as a real challenge to the existing values, an 
arena would be created in which the recovery of Faith would 
become possible, and its full meaning at last visible to the 



40 THE IDEA OF CHRISTENDOM 

many to whom in this tangle of social apostasy it can never 
be revealed. The recovery of the guild, for example, would 
offer a glimpse of the great ideal which that indispensable 
organization attempted in a vital respect to fulfil. There 
may be few who can recognize the Rock on which Christendom 
must be built, but the many must set to building it, realizing 
gradually its full splendours as the towers rise upon their 
humble stones. 



THE RETURN OF DOGMA 

BY 

HENRY H. SLESSER, Barrister-at-Law 

Lecturer on Industrial Law in the University of London 

Author of Tht Naturt of Being, etc. 



42 THE RETURN OF DOGMA 



SYNOPSIS 

i. DOGMA AND EMPIRICISM 

Tendency of the age towards immediate achievement. Modern 
outlook fundamentally pessimistic. Destruction of freedom of 
personality. The true object of thought to discover Purpose. Per- 
sonal certainty and dogma. Modern faith in the causal its effect in 
government. 

What Reality is the world known through the Self. Solipsism, 
and belief in others. The belief in others a dogma. Reality to be 
found in creative freedom. Knowledge of event and mystical know- 
ledge compared. The belief in the Good, Beautiful and True culmi- 
nates in a belief in God as revealed by our Lord. 

2. CHRISTIAN DOGMA 

The pursuit of philosophy the privilege of the few, but conduct 
and beauty universal interests. These involve choice. The chal- 
lenge of Nietzche. The issue between Nietzche and Christianity. 
Sin. Ontological belief in Christ and its effects. Its sanction. The 
equality of man free will. The limitations of the Stoics. Christian 
mysticism joyous. The Kingdom of God. Catholicism reposes 
upon a miraculous basis. Bergson and Will. Evolution only 
possible if it is creative. " Modernism " in faith self-contradictory. 
The philosophy of the Miraculous. The Miraculous and nomen- 
clature. The Miraculous and art. Freedom and humour, fruits of 
the Miraculous. The mediaeval heritage. 



THE RETURN OF DOGMA 43 




i. DOGMA AND EMPIRICISM 

THERE is a constant tendency in our age to be concerned 
with immediate achievement, rather than with ultimate 
object and value. We collect, analyse and arrange data 
of every kind ; we invent and construct elaborate mechanism 
to constrain nature to our will ; we devise innumerable 
schemes of social regeneration, but, generally speaking, we 
avoid thought as to final ends and are apt to regard them 
as unworthy of a modern man's consideration. 

Nevertheless, it is a need of every person and of every 
nation, as experience is daily showing us, that effort, to 
be fruitful, must be based upon some fundamental assurance. 
Complete undogmatic agnosticism, not less than an uncritical 
sentimentality, result in mental and moral confusion, while, 
in proportion as we are inspired by certain conviction, does 
life become richer, art finer, and philosophy more profound. 

The conclusions of modern science to which so many 
people now cling for guidance, even when they do attempt 
to give us a rule of life, are negative and dispiriting, and 
make it increasingly difficult for persons of sensibility to 
take a joyous view of life. We are told by many of our 
contemporaries how the world in which we live must become 
cold and uninhabitable, how the whole of what we cherish 
our lives and institutions, both in their present form and 
future development are doomed to ultimate annihilation, 



44 THE RETURN OF DOGMA 

how, for a time, the cold-blooded reptile may survive us ; 
but that, in the end, all our hopes and fears will find their 
conclusion in dissolution and endless night. The secular 
mortality of man is extended to everything else, and in 
the face of giant natural forces we are impotent. Not even 
the transference of interest from ourselves to our descendants 
can save us, for they also, we are told, are doomed to a futile 
destruction. 

For a period we were left with a personality and will to 
fashion our lives for the short time allotted to us, but even 
in our personal small domain the naturalists now seek to 
enchain us. Our loves, our graces, our genius ; all that 
makes us men, is now said to be the result of glands or of 
mechanical complexes which thrust us this way and tnat, 
now covering, now obtruding our subconscious self, according 
to the inexorable requirements of the laws of psychology. 
Thus we arrive at a state in which, deprived of hope, will 
and responsibility, man is left only with a haunting sense 
of his own impotence, and, with such an equipment, whose 
defects are but partially hidden by crude spasmodic senti- 
mentalisms, modern reformers call upon him to renovate 
the world. 

The normal man, however, continues to resist the subtle 
suggestion, repeated from so many quarters, that he is but 
an automaton. Regardless of authority and argument he 
retains a faith in his freedom and responsibility. 

It has been said by Professor Bradley that the justification 
for philosophic inquiry is the satisfaction of curiosity, but 
surely the matter is deeper than that. Every adult human 
being has a personal attitude towards life, more or less 
complete ; everyone has a basis, an outlook, and a 
character this is something more than mere curiousness, 
it is a need which is in our very nature, it is implicit in all 
choice and in all conduct. Everyone has a sense of what, 
to him, is good, beautiful and true. Even the sceptic is 



THE RETURN OF DOGMA 45 

not doubtful of his scepticism ; the pragmatist asserts as 
absolute truth that truth is but pragmatic. But it is the 
peculiar characteristic of our time that such judgments ever 
tend to be personal and subjective. Dogma, the universal 
social achievement of certainty, is almost dogmatically 
rejected. 

It is the view of the writers of this book that in this extreme 
subjectivity of outlook, more particularly in the determina- 
tion of the good, modern standards fail us. The transition 
from the merely curious speculations of the early Greeks 
to the vital questioning of Socrates is usually represented as 
a progress ; if it be so, we have reverted in great measure 
to the earlier and more unproductive attitude. 

The steadfast refusal of our empirics and relativists 
to enunciate and insist upon universal foundations upon 
which we all collectively may base our thoughts and 
actions is the more unfortunate because, in many ways, 
a great awakening is in progress amongst us. If we 
'deplore the growth of cynicism and materialism on the 
one hand, we must acknowledge the reviving sense of 
human right on the other. Plutocracy and war flourish 
side by side with the emancipation of Labour and the League 
of Nations. Goodwill and wrong are ranged against one 
another more clearly than for some time past and, in the 
shock of their encounter, it looks as if the complacent 
optimism of the Victorian age could not survive. Yet, while 
materialism and power are fully equipped for the fight, those 
who hope that they are on the side of the angels lack that 
dogmatic unanimity of conviction which alone can spur 
them on to victory, and prevent the dissipation of their 
energies. 

That bewildered attitude of the undogmatic mind, in 
some respects agnostic, in many superstitious, characteristic 
of so much of the modern outlook, is achieved by a deliberate 
ignoring of a vast area of human experience, namely, 



46 THE RETURN OF DOGMA 

all that part which is not susceptible of causal demonstration ; 
which, consequently, cannot be made the subject of scientific 
prediction and experiment. There is a strong tendency to 
believe that what cannot be weighed and assessed in terms 
of time and space is not real, that it is, to use the current 
phrase, merely subjective, and, consequently though how 
the consequence arises it is difficult to see it is of little or 
no importance. 

Nor is this attitude merely academic ; it affects all our 
lives, and is to be noticed even in modern legislation, more 
especially if the object of parliamentary benevolence be poor. 
A man is simple, he thinks he would live in a wooden hut ; 
the State forbids him, thus wounding his idiosyncracy ; he 
wishes to educate his children in the way he considers right ; 
a curriculum which may offend the father's taste or outrage 
the child's temperament is thrust upon them. A workman 
prefers to save his money in his own way, Government 
prescribes the method of his insurance ; he will consult a 
chemist as to an ailment, the law proposes to forbid. In 
an increasing number of ways his freedom of action is taken 
from him, mostly at the behest of conscientious reformers ; 
in all matters his personal desires and choice are the last 
thing to be considered. 

These instances may be multiplied, they are but examples 
of the product of the modern mentality, which tends to scout, 
as unworthy of consideration, all those subtle personal feelings 
which go to make up individuality ; which are as various 
as the men who hold them, and, consequently, not mensurable 
by the political scientist. 

Now Reality, so far as men can apprehend it, is largely 
a question of personal value. To the artist, colour is more 
real than sound ; to the devout, grace is more immediate 
than circumstance ; to the stockbroker, it is supposed, con- 
tangoes are more certain than plainsong ; but to every man, 
that which is most real is in and of himself, neither the 



THE RETURN OF DOGMA 47 

State, nor Progress, nor the Spirit of the age, nor even his 
psychic state, but his Soul. 

Although many philosophers would once again assert the 
inherent independence of matter, apart from any human 
percipient, most people would still admit that our knowledge 
of the world is, at the least, considerably coloured by our 
personal outlook. The idealistic views of Bishop Berkeley 
that things are as they are perceived by the mind may have 
to be refined, and a sufficient distinction drawn between 
observed things, the observing mind and the soul ; but, 
nevertheless, one element of truth in his doctrine remains 
unimpaired : that matter comes to us, whatever else it may 
be, as a series of events, and that, so far from objective 
matter being a direct experience, it is a process, partly in- 
tellectual, partly instinctive, which is derived from, and is 
not in itself, our original experience. 

Thus, so far from the outer world being immediate and 
personal consciousness a secondary process ; despite the new 
realists, it must be admitted that we still start from our 
consciousness and impute matter therefrom, and, if this be 
so, if the consciousness, if personality, be to us more real 
than any material world, it would appear that there is much 
in life which is still uncompassed by Science, for Science, 
and the belief in inevitable secular causation upon which 
it is based, can only deal with the data of experience, by 
comparison and experiment ; the personal experience itself, 
and the Self must always be assumed by Science ; yet, it 
is just this initial primordial experience which modern 
psychologists tend to treat as secondary and causal. 

At this point the issue between the dogmatic and empirical 
view as revealed in the problem of Solipsism immediately 
arises ; the problem that, if all event occurs to us only in 
our consciousness, it may well be that no other person exists 
at all except ourselves and that we are living in a dream 
world, peopled solely by our own imagination. 



48 THE RETURN OF DOGMA 

Both for empirical reasons and on dogmatic grounds deeper 
than those of Science, we are convinced of the reality of 
others. So far as regards the purely rational basis for our 
conviction, it may be stated thus we know in the world 
of material event, that we express ourselves outwardly in 
certain ways ; we see others do the same, consequently 
we ascribe to others the same operative personality which 
we know ourselves to possess. This is the bare justification 
from causation. 

But this argument, like all other scientific conclusions, 
makes many unprovable assumptions ; it assumes, first 
of all, the validity of cause at all as a prime influence. It 
may well be that what causes others to approximate to 
our behaviour arises from quite different origins. Next it 
assumes, from definable physical behaviour, that elusive 
indescribable condition, personality. We can hardly define 
our own character, much less can we say how far our actions 
and our characters are consistent ; how then can we hope 
to establish the personality of others from a very partial 
glimpse of their external behaviour ? In fact it is not from 
any scientific induction, obtained from observation of be- 
haviour, that we come to believe that we are not the only 
persons in the Universe ; our real conviction arises not from 
a comparison of data, but as an act of faith. We believe 
in the reality of others because of an irresistible personal 
assurance that it is so. This certainty is an objective 
universal dogma. In sympathy and in love the assurance 
becomes quickened and the personalities of others become 
increasingly real to us ; as in all true acts of faith, the dogmatic 
belief comes before and not after the logical demonstration. 
We ask of faith that it should not ignore our reason, but we 
are dependant for our faith on sources other than those of 
the rational intellect alone. 

In the sense of fellowship with others, we realize our first 
act of faith, and, as we pass from mere recognition to 



THE RETURN OF DOGMA 49 

sympathy, affection and love, our faith in others becomes 
increasingly strengthened, and all causal sociological ex- 
planation is found to be increasingly inadequate. 

The implications of this fact are important ; for, if there 
be such a thing as Progress, if man can be distinguished 
from the animal, if one man can be greater than another, 
it is just in the possession of that sympathy and love, of 
that spontaneous grace or talent, which science is unable 
to assess. Because it is spontaneous, dependant on some 
power quite other than any mechanistic antecedent cause, 
science cannot measure, classify or deal with it. The more 
real and deep is the possessed grace, the less is it susceptible 
of psychological mensuration. 

It is not alone in the domain of human fellowship that 
dogmatic faith is more powerful than causal expectation ; 
the whole inspiration of the artist in the cultivation of the 
Beautiful is similarly spontaneous and cannot be manufac- 
tured by any prescription arrived at by inductive means. 
Thought itself is to be valued in so far as it is both original 
and true. The sciences of ethics, aesthetics and logic are not 
creative ; they catalogue, they do not make ; for the founda- 
tions of science are in the determined, but the inspiration 
of the Good, the Beautiful and the True lie in the spontaneous 
and free. 

It is, moreover, in the possession of creative freedom in 
art, learning or righteousness, that we recognize the achieve- 
ment of a certainty far more real than any that can be 
acquired by mechanistic or logical means ; so far is it from 
being true that the empiricist by experiment or comparative 
contrivance can discover Reality or a rule of life, that, in 
fact, an impossibility of mathematical assessment in any 
particular case, arising from the genius of the creative subject, 
is in itself some indication that Will is there enthroned and 
a close relation to Reality established. 
We have spoken of the determined and of the spontaneous ; 

4 



50 

we will define more closely the sense in which the two words 
are here used. The material world, which common sense 
and Science seek to explain, consists in the first place of a 
series of events, each event in a sense unique, but so far 
resembling another, that a common noun such as " table," 
or " chair," can be employed to describe their common 
properties, which name is indeed a prophecy that what the 
objects named have been found to do in the past, under 
certain circumstances, they will again do in the future. Thus 
the word " sun " is inseparably connected with its daily 
appearance over the horizon, but the use of the word need 
not blind us to the fact that, so far as we know, there is 
no inherent reason why the sun should rise to-morrow 
morning. The word "sun" certainly gives us such an 
expectation, but the sun as an event may always come to 
disappoint it. 

Thus the whole structure upon which the modern empirical 
position rests, the notion of inevitable and uniform causation, 
is based upon the assumption, which language tacitly assumes 
as a basis for nomenclature, that what has happened before 
will happen again, and in no sense can logic or common 
sense claim any certainty greater than this contingent or 
logical one. 

Contrast this with the certainty of the spontaneous, which 
Personality with all its fruits, produces. Here Activity, not 
Repetition, is the principal characteristic ; in no sense can 
genius or even character be predicted, and it is, as we have 
seen, only the lower and fundamentally less real parts of 
man's nature which can be the subject of prediction or of 
adequate definition at all since they alone display the com- 
parative monotony of repetition. 

It may be urged by some that because Science is as yet 
incompetent to compass the higher reaches of our nature, 
this arises from a deficiency of knowledge and in no sense 
proves the non-mechanical nature of personality. It is 



THE RETURN OF DOGMA 51 

true that the mere limitations of present science do not 
of themselves prove the reality of personal Will, but, when 
it is remembered that personality and Will are themselves 
outside the Time-Space process which science assumes ; in 
which science and verbal terminology function ; and that 
the individual person only uses these forms for the purpose 
of comprehending event, it will be recognized that the spon- 
taneous, which is in the true sense of the word infinite in 
character, cannot be the creature of mechanism, itself a finite 
compound. 

If this be true, it is not a failure in degree, but in kind, 
which prevents Science and language from adequately 
describing personality, nor can any extension of a method 
based upon repetition come any nearer to the comprehension 
of that which is free, timeless, without space, and, in the 
ordinary modern acceptation of the word, without Cause. 

A Being of Will such as the human soul, if it is to have 
any supreme guidance, must therefore seek its inspiration, 
more particularly in its personal creative acts, in some 
assured fundament other than that which derives from 
mere knowledge of past or prediction of future event. An 
expediency based upon experience, sagacity or any other 
fundament which is causal or empirical in origin, must fail 
the free spirit. 

We would prefer to claim, as a basis for our assurance, 
a dogmatic belief in the supremacy of the Good, the True and 
Beautiful, which must almost necessarily lead us to the belief 
in the supremacy of God, in Whom these three certainties 
find their culmination, and, if the revelation of God by our 
Lord is the incarnation of the highest norm we can conceive, 
it is in Him that we shall presently discover our ultimate 
certainty and standard. 

It is said of the Tichborne claimant that, on his examination, 
he translated the words " Laus Deo" as the " Laws of God." 
In a sense he was speaking more truly than he knew, for, in 



52 

a sufficient praise and appreciation of the divine law we 
may obtain our deepest insight into Reality. 

2. CHRISTIAN DOGMA 

The study of truth pursued in philosophy and logic may 
be the privilege of the few, but to all men is given, in some 
measure, a dogmatic understanding of the difference between 
right and wrong, between beauty and ugliness. 

Bernard Shaw, in his play " Major Barbara," is scornful 
of those who, having no knowledge of art or philosophy, are 
yet ready to make moral judgments ; yet in this, as in so 
many other matters, Shaw is but quarrelling with what is 
a patent truth of human nature. A child will appreciate 
the difference between being good and naughty, will enjoy 
beauty, long before he will learn to reason, and it is natural 
that he should do so, for, avoid it as we may, it is a fact 
which no difference or scepticism can obscure, that the 
pursuit of goodness and beauty are the fundamental concerns 
of man. 

Of late years we have seen a most courageous and 
unqualified attack upon the Christian rule of life led by 
Nietzche; that master of phrase and denunciation. This 
attack has once more made clear, by antithesis, the 
extraordinary claim and grandeur of the Christian ideal. 
Broadly speaking, the issue between Christianity and the 
Nietzchean creed is that the one is in essence paradoxical, 
in that it is contrary to our animal nature, whereas the other 
exalts the so-called natural law into a religion. That power, 
pride and circumstance are fundamental goods, is affirmed 
by the Nietzchean and denied by the Christian ethic, and 
between these two lie all those compromises and qualifications 
which distinguish religious and ethical systems in general. 

There is in every being a desire to achieve survival, a 
desire which shows itself not only in humanity but in all 
nature, and this desire to survive at any cost readily develops 



THE RETURN OF DOGMA 53 

in man into an appetite to acquire dominion of one kind or 
another for selfish ends over others, and it is this desire for 
dominion, which is inherent in greater or less degree in all 
men, which is fairly and dogmatically called by the theologians 
a sin. 

The teaching of our Lord is a repudiation of this sin of 
dominion, which repudiation shows itself in many respects, 
ranging from martyrdom, the abandonment of the natural 
wish for earthly survival, to courtesy, the voluntary ab- 
stention from over self-assertion. It is moreover unique, 
in that, although the notion of triumph over animal nature 
is adumbrated among the Greek and Chinese moralists and 
finds expression in the teachings of Aknahton of Egypt, the 
paradoxical completeness of the teaching, together with an 
ungrudging recognition of the divine personality of the 
teacher, are only to be found in that one instance of the 
faith which was, until recently, a dogmatic conviction for 
many millions of educated and uneducated persons. 

Whether this ontological faith in the complete and real 
divinity of Christ be justified or not, it must be admitted 
that its presence yields an entirely different quality to belief, 
whether for better or for worse, than arises from a bare 
acceptance of the morality in itself or from a qualifying 
arianism such as is taught by many humanitarians. The 
jurist Austin has shown us how, behind every operative 
obligation, there lies some sanction, punitive, retributive 
or other ; and the absence of sanction, it is believed, must in 
the end tend to emasculate faith, and render it impotent 
to fight against the allurements of power and unrestrained 
ambition. 

The mystical assertion of the equality of all men before 
God, inherent in the Catholic faith, which is the negation 
of the worth of secular dominion, assumes every man to 
be capable of moral freedom, and assumes, moreover, that 
the value of every man's judgment lies in his sacred person- 



54 THE RETURN OF DOGMA 

ality ; in his possession of a soul, and not in any extrinsic 
material circumstances of race, rank or fortune. 

The Catholic must believe that the gift of that personality 
is certainly not a matter to be predicted in mechanical terms ; 
the movements of the Holy Spirit lie clean outside Science 
and Psychology, for the Spirit is directly associated with the 
Personality, which is therefore itself a reality having no 
antecedent human cause. 

Thus, we are brought to the dogmatic belief again, through 
the observation of man's moral life, that the freedom of 
the soul, which is the liberty of God, is the basis of the whole 
human spiritual world, and that, so far from the deepest 
things of life being material, the free soul is operated by the 
influence of the Holy Spirit and is, even in its relative life 
on earth, itself spontaneous and immortal. 

It is curious and typical of the present confusion of mind, 
that the modern sceptical materialist should so often proclaim 
himself a democrat, for, if the mystical dogma of equality 
and grace and its corollary of freedom be rejected, and man 
be conceived as the creature of circumstance, there would 
appear to be a thousand reasons why, as a result of breeding, 
education and selection, men of varying degrees of value 
might be produced. In this connection perhaps it is strange 
to notice that Plato, the father of Idealism in metaphysic, 
very illogically accepts the whole deterministic position, 
when, in his Republic, he calls for aristocracy and the special 
breeding of men. 

It is essential, however, in these matters, that we should 
do justice to the Stoical position. The Stoics, like the 
Christians, asserted the universality of man, his inherent 
equality and right to equal treatment. And if, therefore, 
we come to the conclusion that it is only either in the egali- 
tarianism of the Stoic or the Catholic that the highest morality 
is to be found, we have yet to show why it is that, in this 
respect, Stoicism fails us and Catholicism is adequate. 



THE RETURN OF DOGMA 55 

The difficulty which was ever present to the Stoic mind 
was that the system of universal justice for which he con- 
tended lacked any dogmatic or compelling basis. In vain 
did he invoke that curious abstraction, " The Law of Nature," 
as a justification for what must seem to every unprejudiced 
person a rule of life wholly paradoxical ; contrary to the 
order of nature which he invoked ; contrary to the policy 
of the Roman Empire in which he acquiesced ; and contrary 
to the immediate interests of the individual to whom he 
preached. There arises, in consequence, among the Stoics, 
as among many modern humanitarians, a somewhat senten- 
tious solemnity and joylessness of outlook ; indeed a funda- 
mental pessimism, against which the Epicureans very naturally 
protested and of which the Cynics made a mock. The truth 
is that, in the paradoxical implications of Stoicism and 
Catholicism alike, the demands for service made by those 
doctrines can only be sustained through a very vivid and 
personal dogmatic mysticism and, that such mysticism may 
be in harmony with man's nature, it must needs be a mysticism 
of a very joyous kind. 

We find in the moral sphere that a vast change of outlook, 
absent in pagan sagacity, is proclaimed by that great dogmatic 
ordinance which may be best summarized in the command 
" Return good for evil." It cannot be over-emphasized how 
entirely revolutionary, and, in the sense in which the word 
has been used, paradoxical, is this precept ; as indeed, is 
the whole doctrine of the Sermon on the Mount, enjoining 
man not to seek his highest good in his own preservation, 
nor in wisdom, caution, temperance, or even justice, as do 
the philosophers, but in boldly claiming from him an entire 
subversion of his lower nature, the repudiation of selfishness 
and a recognition of his duty as a co-operative builder of 
God's kingdom. 

The scope and implications of the Catholic creed will be dis- 
cussed in this book by others more competent to deal with 



56 

the subject ; for the moment I am only concerned to show 
that not only do we need dogma for right living, but that 
the miraculous dogmas of the Catholic Church are the ones 
which we should accept. 

It is not denied for a moment that the Catholic faith 
rests upon a miraculous basis, but, even if we approach 
the problem of Being from the narrower standpoint of 
Science; it would appear that, in the last resort, we shall 
have to invoke the notion of spontaneous Will, akin to 
the miraculous, to account for the development of organ- 
isms, if not also for their mere continuity. Thus Bergson 
points out very clearly, in his Creative Evolution, that 
variation and change can only occur in an organism through 
the introduction of new unaccountable elements, and it 
would appear, when the matter is closely considered, that 
the whole notion of development is otherwise self-coritra- 
dictory, in that, if the tendencies to change are only innate 
in the beginning, they cannot be the cause alone, without 
an external influence, of their own actualization ; while, if 
the change is overt from the outset, it was strictly present 
from the beginning of the transition and there was really 
no new element of change developed at all. 

Nevertheless, while tardily admitting the volitional 
element in life, the full significance of the spontaneous and 
unassessable elements in creation are apt to be scouted 
even by the most modern psychologists who continue to 
apply to the divine characteristics of man, methods which 
may be suited to the study of molecules in a laboratory. 1 

The work of Dr. Berman, The Glands Affecting Personality, 
is very typical of this modern mentality. In it appears the following 
passage : " The distinction between men of theoretical genius whose 
minds could embrace a universe, and yet fail to manage successfully 
their own personal lives, and the men of practical genius who can 
achieve and execute . . . lies primarily in the balance between the 
ante-pituitary and the adrenal cortex. Men like Abraham Lincoln 
and George Bernard Shaw belong to this ante-pituitary group." 



THE RETURN OF DOGMA 57 

When, however, we do unreservedly bring ourselves fully to 
appreciate the working of Will in man, it becomes evident 
that the essential value of high morality and art in men and 
nations is that it frees them from those mechanical causal 
habits which are called, somewhat unfairly animal, for the 
free pursuit by a free personality of the Good, the Beautiful 
and the True. We believe, as a dogma, that all mankind 
are capable of this emancipation, and there is considerable 
desire to admit possibilities of redemption to the animal 
kingdom generally, if not to the whole Universe. 

With this view of a miraculous created world before us, 
it may appear extraordinary to many, who are not Christians 
at all, that modernists should so fear dogma that they should 
be at pains to modernize and explain away that miraculous 
basis of life on which not only Christianity, but all art and 
even all joyous living depend. 

Dr. Weston, the Bishop of Zanzibar, points out that, 
even in the Roman Church, modernization and the " sym- 
bolical reading " of the things denned by the Vatican Councils 
and the Early Fathers is in rapid progress, 1 and the tendency 
to surrender to the spirit of the age in hypostatizing causation 
is not confined to any particular Church. 

Despite the apologetics of modernists, it cannot be too 
clearly recognized by Catholics, as in deed it is assumed 
by their sceptical opponents, that Christianity is, emphati- 
cally, a religion which involves in its very nature a full and 
adequate dogmatic recognition of the miraculous. However 
the idea of miracle may be distorted in popular debate, it is 
idle to deny that Christianity, so far from asserting the 
rigid uniformity of fate and so-called " natural " law, is a 
standing qualification of it and refutation of its universality. 

In the moral field, the automatic struggle for existence, 
dear to the evolutionist, is supplanted by the paradoxical 
ideals of Mercy and Love in the material world, the fatalistic 
1 The Christ and His Critics, chapter i. 



58 THE RETURN OF DOGMA 

notions of heredity and environment are contradicted in the 
belief in Personality, in social and individual Grace. 

If, then, the miraculous be that which has no secular ante- 
cedent cause, at any rate no finite calculable one Christi- 
anity, so far from denying that effects may be produced 
immediately by the Holy Spirit, asserts that this miracle 
is not only a common experience but that such inexplicable 
ultra-material intervention, is essentially true Reality. 

It is, nevertheless, right, despite the subordination of the 
causal to the miraculous, that we should not fall into the 
error of the Manichaeans and despise the material, but that 
we should study and endeavour to understand the arena 
in which our will contends, in which, as in all creation, we 
assert that the universal Will is immanent. 

We have seen how our whole causal life and all science 
and nomenclature rest upon the expectation of repetition. 
A noun, the name of a thing, is a prophecy of what the thing 
will do in a certain event. If we call a certain phenomenon 
" wood," it is because we impute to it a certain essential 
quality, say inflammability, and, in so doing, predict that 
under certain circumstances it will burn. This is the case 
with ah 1 those common nouns descriptive of things as events 
with which we are primarily concerned in discussing the 
miraculous. 

A statement, concerning an event, must, however, contain 
a verb, to describe the thing achieving its potentialities 
as well as a noun, and it is when this verb contains descrip- 
tions of events, the possibility of which is inconsistent, or 
thought to be inconsistent, with the essence of the subject 
noun that the question of a miracle arises. We do not 
normally impute to water the quality of becoming wine. 
If, therefore, water change into wine, our terminological 
basis, in the narrow sense, undoubtedly tends to fail us. 

Reliance on inevitable repetition as a universal rule of 
life and our logical apparatus are therefore both obstacles 



THE RETURN OF DOGMA 59 

to a reception of the miraculous; but, seeing that, in fact, 
the spontaneous, which we have recognized in Will, is the 
negation of repetition and yet must be admitted into our 
experience ; it would seem that our logical equipment, which 
is so largely based upon the assumption of natural uniformity, 
is inadequate to compass our whole knowledge. 

In all metaphysic this is, in a sense, assumed Philosophy, 
like all other verbal communication, consists of statements ; 
in every metaphysical assertion there is a subject and a 
predicate, but, unlike the case of Science, in Philosophy, 
as in religion, the subject-matter to be explained must contain 
all experience, and, unless the predicate exceeds such rational 
experience, the belief as to the ultimates of knowledge must 
remain merely sceptical. 

Thus, finally, we are driven to notions, which, by reason 
of their non-causal and non-repetitive nature, we cannot 
render in complete predication. Yet we have seen that it 
is just in the affirmation of the miraculous, where our logical 
equipment is inadequate, that we touch Reality. It is no 
objection to our employment of words or arts to symbolize 
the real that we cannot furnish them with a complete con- 
notation, the deficiency lies in our own mentality and not 
in the notion ; we may continue to use arts and faith which 
embody the miraculous with confidence the dogmatic 
belief in God, the divinity of our Lord, and other sublime 
notions are not the less real to us because we cannot give to 
them a definition based upon common repetitive Aristotelian 
logic. 

Neither of the objections to the miraculous therefore ; 
neither the dogmatic assertion of a fated repetition which is 
avoided in the reality of experience, nor the objection of a 
repetitive logic are sound ; the former is not only unsound 
but untrue to our experience ; the latter, with its insistence 
upon essence and accident, on noun and verb, is based upon 
the causal notion of universal repetition, and in the last 



60 THE RETURN OF DOGMA 

resort, stands and falls with that assumption. It is, indeed, 
only in a world exclusively governed by rigid fate, that the 
Aristotelian distinction of essence and contradiction, in 
noun and verb, can be maintained. 

Directly the free spontaneous intervenes, as in the operations 
of personality, love, beauty or grace, the exclusive logical 
causal, based upon an assumption of repetition, fails us ; 
it is interesting to observe that it is just at this time that 
the artist and the devout supplant the scientist and logician. 

All true art, like all true faith, must recognize the miracu- 
lous ; the sciences of aesthetics and ethics have proved their 
total incapacity, owing to their causal and comparative 
method, to deal with that which surpasses the dogma of 
repetition. 

To summarize, we have experience of two worlds : the 
one to which the modern sceptics have exclusively pinned 
their faith, the repetitive, causal and uninspired, the world 
of appearance ; and the other, the real world, the experience 
of which is far more poignant and immediate, the world of 
the miracle and the spirit, the creative original state which 
we recognize in creative art. No noun of generalization can 
hope to symbolize it adequately ; the approach to the 
understanding of it is primarily through the certainties of 
inspiration and through art and grace. 

Not the least of the endowments of the belief in essential 
freedom is the gift of Comedy. Bergson, in his essay on 
Laughter, has pointed out how the sense of comic is founded 
upon the unexpected. From humour to joy is an easy step, 
and from joy to consolation. It is to be observed how those 
caricatures of Christianity which are based upon the mechan- 
istic unchristian view of predestination unfailingly produce 
their share of the solemn, the gloomy and the pretentious. 
It is not the least-considerable advantage of spiritual freedom 
that it keeps us sweet. 

Enough has been said to show that it is in the spontaneous 



THE RETURN OF DOGMA 61 

miraculous and not in any mechanical system that the highest 
life consists. A Christian may therefore approach the 
miraculous basis upon which his creed reposes with a very 
real feeling that, whatever else may be revealed by it, the 
fact that it is miraculous, so far from being any argument 
against its validity, is ini tself an earnest and an essential 
part of the belief. 

There have been men who have sought for a Beethoven 
in terms of climate, race, or possibly of phosphates ; but the 
common sense of the ordinary man and the intuition of the 
imaginative will continue to regard genius as a miracle. If then 
man, heightened by genius, can produce great artistic results 
by no material agency: how much more likely is it that 
the Divine Will, which inspires even that human one which 
we find in genius, can itself, on its own occasion, produce 
miraculous changes in the order of nature ? 

The miraculous is seen to show itself in two forms 
at least. There are cases where the order of nature has 
been, and continues to be, superseded ; cases where we should 
expect to find spontaneous Will still enmeshed in causal 
Substance ; and these miracles we believe to be only possible 
to the Author of Will and Substance alike, or possibly to 
those receiving directly delegated powers. But, over and 
beyond this, there remains the whole gamut of the miraculous ; 
varying from so detached and vital a case as the conversion 
of St. Paul to the inspiration of the artist and the smallest 
liberation from necessity achieved by any creature. 

We have seen that, in the last resort, what is most important 
in life cannot be denned by reason or adequately named in 
words, nevertheless, it is a necessity of our nature to endeavour 
to obtain some certain postulate as a guidance in affairs 
which we can all share. All men have to act, and all conduct 
which is at all social must rest upon a dogma. The true 
question for us is not one as between doubt and certitude ; 
for all conduct rests ultimately upon temporary certainty, 



62 THE RETURN OF DOGMA 

but it is a choice between one continuing sufficient dogma 
and a series of inconsistent experiments in faith. 

The last decade has been one of anarchy in ideal and 
practice. Revolt as a good in itself : theosophy, Christian 
Science, patriotism, pacifism, magic, spiritualism, psycho- 
complexities and autosuggestions, beliefs in majorities, and, 
later, in minorities ; all these have in turn been offered to 
a bewildered people struggling to the light. Against these 
ephemeral doctrines we offer the old yet ever-living dogma 
of the Catholic Faith as a balm and corrective to our present 
discontents. 

We recognize in the world an increasing desire for a dog- 
matic basis of life ; we realize the slow but growing conviction 
that, in essentials, the faithful of the Middle Ages, despite 
their failures in practice, possessed a rule of life and a sense 
of beauty which we are painfully endeavouring to recover. 
We are not ashamed to preach those old doctrines from which 
many have turned as too superstitious for their use. What 
these doctrines are and what their moral, social and 
economic implications, those who come after me have en- 
deavoured to explain. 



THE NECESSITY OF CATHOLIC 
DOGMA 

BY 

Fr. L. S. THORNTON, M.A. 

Priest of the Community of the Resurrection, Mirfield 
Author of Conduct and tin Supernatural 



64 THE NECESSITY OF CATHOLIC DOGMA 



SYNOPSIS 

1. THE FAILURE OF MODERN CIVILIZATION. 

Due to its being unlike the Kingdom of God. 

Its characteristics : secularism, individualism, mechanism. 

Its bankruptcy and need of redemption. 

The return of Catholicism. 

2. REDEMPTIVE VALUE OF THE CREED. 

Catholic dogma the key. Return to God. 

Catholic doctrine of God the necessary ground of society. 

The redemptive action of God makes possible a hope of 

renovation. 

Social significance, of the Creed. 
The Gospel miracles give a revelation of values. 
They assert the reality of God's freedom. 
They declare redemption to be a divine work which man 

needs because he cannot reform himself. 
The Creed discloses the meaning of personality in God and in 

man. 

Divine Love. 
The value of human personality. 

3. REDEEMED SOCIETY. 

Redemption is already a fact. 

A new social order appeared in the early Church. 

It can only be explained by reference to an cxpsritnce of 

redemption. 
This experience requires a theological explanation and 

involves dogmatic statements. 

The experience of divine grace inspires hope of social trans- 
formation. 
The Holy Spirit transforms personal relationships from within. 

The power of the Cross. The indwelling of Christ 

Crucified. 
The Resurrection of the Body gives value to the whole material 

order. 
The Sacraments emphasize the unity of soul and body, religion 

and the social order. Worship and work. The Eucharist 

as symbol of Christendom. 



THE NECESSITY OF CATHOLIC DOGMA 65 



CHAPTER III 
THE NECESSITY OF CATHOLIC DOGMA 

PREVIOUS essays have indicated that Society must be rein- 
tegrated upon a dogmatic basis, and that the common end 
which men must set before themselves is the Christian ideal 
of the Kingdom of God. Such a reintegration would be 
" Christendom," an international world-order bound together 
in a common allegiance to Christ strong enough to transcend 
all barriers. Such a Christendom would possess its own 
many-sided culture penetrating all grades of society ; and 
the whole would be held together by a great common tradi- 
tion of religious experience in which each individual has an 
intimate share. It is a fundamental belief of those who 
contribute to the present work that the ancient dogmas of 
Catholicism provide the only adequate basis upon which a 
restored Christendom can be built. 



The precarious condition to which modern civilization has 
been reduced is due to the inadequate foundations upon 
which it has been built. For it took its rise in reaction from 
an intensely theocratic conception of society held in the 
Middle Ages, and in consequence of its initial bias it has 
always tended to represent in a one-sided way a quite opposite 
group of tendencies. Whatever we may think of particular 
embodiments of the Kingdom of God in the past, it is 
becoming increasingly certain that the failure of modern 

5 



66 THE NECESSITY OF CATHOLIC DOGMA 

civilization is due to its unlikeness in almost every respect 
to any form of society which the idea of the Kingdom of 
God could possibly suggest. For the root idea of the Kingdom 
of God is that human society does not exist either by its 
own right, or for its own ends, but that it has a Divine Ruler 
to whom it belongs, Who founded it by His creative power, 
and Who impressed His divine will upon its constitution. 
Dependence is thus the aspect of human nature which is 
emphasized in this doctrine of the Kingdom. Man owes his 
origin to the divine will, and for the realization of his destiny 
he depends upon a wide all-embracing purpose conceived in 
the divine mind. Society, grounded upon God, has thus 
an ideal necessary unity of its own, and a common end 
towards which it must move. And with this common recogni- 
tion of God as the ground of human life goes a mutual 
dependence of men upon one another. Men are not at liberty 
to do as they like ; for they exist as parts of a larger social 
whole which sets a limit to their freedom because it is itself 
the divinely appointed environment of their life. A civiliza- 
tion which was deliberately framed in conformity to this 
conception of the Kingdom of God would necessarily have 
religion for its central bond. The idea of God would be 
determinative for all other ideas round which such a civiliza- 
tion was built. All the relationships existing in society 
would be subordinated to a moral ideal, the source of which 
would be found in the character of God Himself. Religion 
would inform all human activities, inspiring some, controlling 
and purifying others, giving a divine reference to all things 
human by persuading men that their highest achievements 
could only spring from faith and the spirit of consecration 
in a life of mutual service. 

With such ideas as these, however, the root principles of 
our present civilization have scarcely anything in common. 
Modern society took its rise from an age of humanism and 
individualism ; and it has borne those marks upon it ever 



THE NECESSITY OF CATHOLIC DOGMA 67 

since, only developing them to their logical conclusions. 
On its religious side it has steadily pushed God away into as 
remote a position as possible. Its typical theological systems 
made Him an inscrutable autocrat, who cares for a few favoured 
persons and rejects the vast majority of mankind. It has 
thus secularized one department of life after another, and 
divorced them from all connection with religion. It has 
torn God from the centre and placed Him on the circumfer- 
ence. In His place it has put man as the measure of all 
things. Along with this dethronement of God has gone the 
doctrine of individualism, one of the cornerstones of the 
modern world. In place of the older doctrine of the mutual 
dependence of persons in a common dependence upon God, 
came another idea of solitary self-centred personality, which 
first of all made religion a private affair, and so obtained 
religious sanction for the belief that everything else ought 
to be given the same private and self-centred form. The 
new point of view spread itself over every sphere, theoretical 
and practical alike. The individual was conceived as a 
self-sufficient unit, born free and inheriting absolute rights 
and liberties. Freedom in a secularized and individualistic 
world is bound to be interpreted in an irresponsible sense, 
consequently this irresponsible doctrine of liberty is in the 
end seen to involve the destruction of all liberties. What 
seems to give more scope to the individual eventually brings 
all men under bondage to necessity by making the selfishness 
of the few to be the law of life for the many. Thus we are 
expected to submit to economic laws which are in reality 
simply the permanent tendencies of self-interest dressed up 
in solemn legal garb. It follows that justice is replaced by 
sophistry because the sacred ark of egoism must not be 
touched. To such depths of fatuity will men sink in their 
veneration for selfish superstitions. But where justice is 
destroyed, society must break up. The same must be said 
of truth. The philosophers turned the doctrine of liberty 



68 THE NECESSITY OF CATHOLIC DOGMA 

to yet another use by making the pursuit of truth a private 
affair of personal introspection. Here also the self-sufficiency 
of man was implicitly trusted. 

This world of individualism was naturally a materialistic 
mechanical world. Where there is no ideal of fellowship, 
individualism must needs find for itself a more artificial and 
automatic system of supports, which will not demand the 
arduous exercise of social activity. During the past century 
men had been led to suppose that they had secured such a 
system in a world of highly elaborated mechanical contriv- 
ances which provided a temporary basis of material pros- 
perity. As long as this imposing external exhibition con- 
tinued it was naturally interpreted as a sign that a high level 
of culture had been attained. On the other hand, the 
collapse of this artificial world of mechanism reveals striking iy 
the actual impotence of modern man. The real liberty which 
is only achieved through recognition of the mutual dependence 
of persons in society has been at a discount all the time. 
In such a time of disillusionment there is real danger that 
men will cease to believe in liberty. 

Meanwhile there are signs at least that the folly of some 
of these doctrines is being understood. Recent psychology 
lays emphasis upon the social aspects of the individual and 
the necessity of co-operation. The individual, we are told, 
does not possess liberty naturally, but must achieve it by 
severe social effort. 1 Yet the mere discovery of truer social 
theories will not carry us far. The creative energy, loyalty, 
and self-sacrifice which such theories demand lie far above 
the level which the average man is capable of attaining. 
The old mythology of natural goodness and inevitable progress 
has been exposed. We cannot assume any inevitable process 
which will enable men to attain a common mind and will. 
The only thing which appears inevitable, humanly speaking, 
is a perpetual conflict of interests ending in catastrophe. 
' M. P. Follett, The New State. 



THE NECESSITY OF CATHOLIC DOGMA 69 

Indeed, Professor Royce pointed out before the war that 
the problem of the individual becomes more and more acute 
as civilization develops. " The diseases of self-consciousness 
are due to the inmost nature of our social race. . . . They 
increase with cultivation." l What Royce asserted of the 
individual is equally true of the nation and of other self- 
centred groups. The pressing logic of facts is making it 
clearer every day that there are disruptive tendencies in 
human nature, which are a permanent danger to society. 
That fundamental self-assertion of the individual and his 
interests, which is known to theology as " original sin," is 
not less prominent to-day than in the past, and there 
is not the smallest ground on any analysis of natural 
human resources for supposing that it will ever be any- 
thing else. 

It is this situation which calls loudly for a return of 
Catholic Christendom. Protestantism is helpless ; for its 
distortion of both religion and morality is largely responsible 
for the actual state of things. It destroyed the only world- 
wide fellowship man has ever known, and broke up that 
unity of belief upon which it rested. Now there hardly 
exists any common tradition of belief in respect of either 
truth or justice regarded as objective spiritual goods. Reason 
divorced from faith becomes destructive of the one, whilst 
blind self-interest makes the other seem impossible. 

Thus on every side we see no hope for the future of society, 
unless it can be redeemed from its miseries by some power 
beyond itself ; which can, not only exorcise the demons of 
proud self-complacency, selfish greed, materialism and black 
despair which alternately fill it, but also build it afresh 
on altogether new foundations. To this situation Catholicism 
has its answer. Only God can redeem, as He alone can 
create ; and there is no remedy for these maladies except 
that which the Catholic Gospel provides. The misery and 
1 Royce, Problem of Christianity, vol. i. pp. 156, 157. 



70 THE NECESSITY OF CATHOLIC DOGMA 

confusion of our modern world and the incapacity of all 
its boasted knowledge to find any way out all these 
things are so many signs pointing us back to the old 
foundations. 



II 

The world evidently needs salvation, and it can only be 
saved by returning once more to a belief in God. Yet not 
any doctrine about God will do. The solitary far-off God 
of Unitarian deism cannot help us ; for it is that kind of 
belief more than any other, perhaps, which has robbed the 
world of its religious significance and left man alone to the 
slavery of self-interest. Neither will the various pantheistic 
systems be of any use ; for they offer no help from beyond 
this world, and it is precisely this world which needs deliver- 
ance. Nor, again, can we turn to a limited God, however 
much goodwill he may be supposed to possess. A God who 
is to save the world must be one who already controls and 
rules it, its Author and Creator, who stands above its weakness 
and confusion, and presides over its destinies with sovereign 
authority. Yet He must be also One who comes to the 
rescue of the world and acts with power and purpose, and 
sympathetic understanding for its needs. Such is the God 
whose self-revelation is recorded in the Scriptures, and whose 
Name comes to us through the age-long Christian tradition. 
It comes to us in a doctrine embodying an immense range of 
religious experience which was the accepted foundation of 
Christendom for centuries ; whilst the records of its first 
appearance in history bear unmistakable marks of a divine 
revelation. 

When European civilization was consciously built upon 
this dogma it believed also of necessity in a common ideal 
of justice and fellowship for man. The one was a consequence 
of the other. And if we go back to the origins of the doctrine 



THE NECESSITY OF CATHOLIC DOGMA 71 

in the Bible, we find that it was the unveiling of God's character 
and being which was the foundation of the whole conception 
of a Kingdom of God. In the minds of the prophets the two 
ideas were inseparable. As the reality and holiness of God 
were borne in upon their minds, so the vision of a kingdom 
of righteousness on earth inevitably followed. And when 
revelation reached a more intimate stage, and God con- 
descended to appear on earth in human form and disclose 
His inmost life as a fellowship of personal relationships, 
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, then a corresponding advance 
in man's social ideal appeared. A new embodiment of the 
Kingdom of God was realized in the Apostolic Church, in 
which not merely justice but a universal all-embracing love 
became the accepted law of life. 

But human society needs not only a revelation of God's 
nature and character to furnish the ground and standard 
of its life. It needs above all things a power from God to 
enable it to live according to the ideal which is thus disclosed. 
It needs not only revelation, but redemption. Here, again, 
there is no redemption adequate to its need, save that which 
is offered by Catholic dogma. God has revealed Himself 
by His acts in history. He chose a people and trained them 
to the knowledge of Himself. He preserved a remnant of 
them through centuries of changing fortune, and kept alive 
in them the conviction that through their agency His Kingdom 
would finally be established. Then, since the whole human 
race whom He created had wandered from the right path 
into a hopeless and helpless state of sinfulness, God intervened 
in the course of nature for its redemption. Nature had 
failed ; nothing could help it but a new creative act of God, 
or rather a series of acts unmistakably supernatural in 
character. So the Son of God became Man and was born 
of a Virgin, worked miracles upon earth, lived and died and 
rose from the dead, taking again His body and ascending 
into heaven. So, too, on the basis of these redemptive acts 



He instituted the Catholic Church, pouring His Spirit 
into it and so creating in it a new centre of world-wide 
fellowship. 

Now, if these events really happened, as we firmly believe, 
then every one of them is charged with a moral and social 
significance of the most overwhelming kind. The Catholic 
Creed has suffered too long from being treated either simply 
as a badge of orthodoxy, a piece of defensive armour against 
erroneous beliefs, or as a summary of remote events in 
history which have indeed sentimental associations for 
believers, but little or no connection with the problems of 
our common life in society. The Gospel was not so regarded 
by the early Christians. It was a sword which cut them 
off from pagan society and dispatched martyrs to their death ; 
a golden bond which bound men together in unworldly fellow- 
ship ; a moral dynamic which turned the world upside down. 
To many people the present capitalist degradation of society 
seems to embody inevitable laws which cannot be altered. 
In a mechanical world everything encourages men to believe 
that they are governed by a fate which leaves no room for 
freedom either in God or man. The miraculous events of 
the Gospel are a declaration that this view is false. They 
declare that God is free, that so far from being a slave to 
nature's necessities He is able to subordinate them to His 
own purposes. The difficulty which men have in appreciating 
this idea to-day is only part of a general difficulty of the 
imagination which, in an artificial machine-made civilization, 
makes any really creative act seem impossible. But, when 
once this characteristic is acknowledged to be one of the 
marks of spiritual bankruptcy in modern life, the assertion 
of divine freedom in miraculous events is seen to be not 
only rational, but necessary if man's need is to be met effec- 
tually. The miracles of the Gospel are thus symbols of 
the reality of God's Personality to a world which has largely 
ceased to believe in personal values. 



THE NECESSITY OF CATHOLIC DOGMA 73 

But, secondly, the Gospel miracles also characterize the 
nature of the redemption which man needs. In the optimistic 
days of the nineteenth century, when people of all views 
believed in an inevitable progress to a social millennium by 
the method of social reform, a humanitarian type of religion 
was put forward and became widely accepted because it 
so entirely harmonized with this point of view. According 
to it the Christian religion consisted in believing that God 
is our Father, and that all men are brothers ; that Christ 
was a good Man who taught this, and enforced it by His 
example. In short, that He came not to redeem society, 
but to teach men how to reform society. And there are 
still plenty of people who think that " Christianity " as they 
call it is " useful to society," that it is a sort of medicine to 
be taken in modest doses to keep the social sickness from 
becoming too obvious, that it is to do the ambulance work, 
to encourage men in patching up an old world. If the 
Gospel is really only a modest programme of social reform 
for a world which can save itself, then, indeed, miracles are 
out of place, and there was no need for the Son of God to 
become Incarnate. But this point of view is out of date. 
A bankrupt world needs the assurance that it is redeemed 
by God in spite of itself. The miracles of the Gospel declare 
that redemption is an act of God from first to last. Man 
can only desire it, yearn for it, and accept it gratefully and 
humbly when it is given. Yet here, again, though it is God's 
act, it is not inevitable. The free act of God does not treat 
man as a puppet, but rather makes possible his free response. 
Thus the Son of God was born of a Virgin to assure us that 
the New Creation was God's act, and not man's ; yet the 
miracle could not take place until Mary had freely accepted 
the Divine gift, acting as sponsor for us all in this. 

Once more, the method of redemption is intensely personal. 
It declares not only the reality of God's Personality, but the 
inmost meaning and significance of personality in both God 



74 THE NECESSITY OF CATHOLIC DOGMA 

and man. God is declared to be One whose greatness and 
power is manifested in loving condescension which stoops 
to the dust, humbles itself to the lowest level, and stops at 
nothing to achieve its purpose. God identifies Himself with 
the common experience of human life ; accepts its drudgery 
and becomes intimate with the sordidness of sinful man ; 
submits to maltreatment at his hands, and suffers Himself 
to be tested to the uttermost in torture and death. And 
the same life which gave a personal revelation of Divine 
Love also created a new idea of the meaning and worth of 
human personality. To our modern world which exalts 
mechanism and fate, and despises the worth of free personal 
life, for all its catchwords of liberty, to such a world the 
Life and Death of Christ declare the dignity of human nature 
and the worth of personality in man. If God Incarnate 
lived as a poor man and worked in a carpenter's shop, and 
if the Manhood in which He did these things suffered death 
for all and is now on the throne of heaven ; then it is a 
blasphemous insult to that Manhood to treat any man's 
liberty as an indifferent thing on grounds of class or colour. 
If the Son of God took the nature which is common to us 
all, and by so doing declared the spiritual dignity of every 
human being, then the present social order is an open denial 
of Christ ; for it condemns the majority of mankind to be 
economic slaves ministering to the selfishness of the minority. 
To acquiesce in it is to crucify Christ afresh. According to 
His own declaration Our Lord came to give His Life as a 
ransom that is to redeem men from slavery ; "to proclaim 
release to the captives, to set at liberty them that are bruised." 
We cannot set any a priori limit to this Gospel of emancipation, 
such as, for example, is to be found in the strange idea that 
it is confined to the salvation of the soul from personal sin, 
and is irrespective of bodily and social conditions, however 
inconsistent these may be with the true dignity of human 
personality. 



THE NECESSITY OF CATHOLIC DOGMA 75 

III 

It is of vital importance to human society that it should 
accept the revelation of personal values, divine and human, 
involved in the historic facts of the Creed. But it is still 
more important to realize that the work of man's redemption 
was actually accomplished through those events ; and to 
understand in what way the power of this redemptive 
work is actually available to-day for the renovation of our 
common life. 

The Gospel of Christ was essentially one of re-creation. 
It not only set up a new social ideal. It actually inaugurated 
a new society, founded by the creative act of God, and built 
upon His redemptive work. It is a plain historical fact that 
in the first days of the early apostolic Church a new social 
order has already appeared. Personal relationships are on 
a new footing, extending even to communal possession of 
property.* In this community the relation of the individual 
to society has already been solved. The ideal of brotherly 
love is seen in action, successfully realized as a growing vital 
thing extending itself rapidly from place to place. The new 
movement produces also an immensely rich moral literature, 
containing an altogether new set of ideals which are applied 
to every form of social relationship. The unit of this new 
society is depicted as a new type of character, unheard of in 
the world before, and actually realized in a pre-eminent 
degree. The sociological significance of the Gospel declared 
itself at once in its power to produce a unique kind of life 
manifested in a new social order. Here we see in germ the 
whole possibility of Christendom, a realized Kingdom of 
God on earth. The form which this idea has already taken 
in history is discussed elsewhere in this book. We are here 
only concerned with the connection between this new social 
order and the dogmas and facts of the Catholic Creed. That 
1 Acts ii. and iv. 



76 THE NECESSITY OF CATHOLIC DOGMA 

there /s a vital connection is the universal conviction of the 
New Testament writers, and of all orthodox Christian theology 
since, representing a continuous and overwhelming weight 
of religious experience of every age. The new community, 
as soon as it appeared and continuously ever since, has traced 
its origin to an act of God. It is what it is because it is the 
redeemed community. Its common life is traced to a 
common salvation. Its members find their universal bond 
of fellowship in loyalty to the Lord who died for their redemp- 
tion. This fellowship was created and is sustained by the 
indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit who conveys to all 
a new life from God the power and efficacy of Christ's life 
and death and resurrection. We cannot enter here into the 
wide fields of theological speculation and definition which 
have arisen out of these central facts of Christian experience. 
Nor is it necessary to the present argument. It is sufficient 
to observe that the whole social structure of Christendom, 
as it has appeared in history, must be traced to this experi- 
ence of redemption. " If any man be in Christ he is a new 
creature ; old things are passed away, behold all things are 
become new," " Ye are all one in Christ Jesus." These 
are typical phrases of the New Testament, describing the 
intense form which the experience took in the earliest days. 
From the first it has had three aspects, (a) It is embodied 
in a redeemed community, whose members are bound 
together in a more intimate manner than is to be found in 
any other form of human society, (b) Within the community 
redemption moves primarily along personal lines, rebuilding 
individual character and deepening the natural gifts of 
personality ; yet in such a way as to eliminate selfish individ- 
ualism and build bridges of fellowship and mutual dependence. 
(c) The redemptive power which is at work is always traced 
to the action of God, and therefore involves a theological 
explanation of the whole experience. It was this third 
feature which, by the universal testimony of the earliest 



THE NECESSITY OF CATHOLIC DOGMA 77 

Christians, and by all Catholic theology ever since, is regarded 
as completely determinative for the Christian moral and 
social order. For the experience of redemption means for 
the individual a definite personal relationship of the soul 
to Christ ; and it belongs to the essence of the experience 
that this relationship is not self-made. It comes through 
participation in the common life of the redeemed community. 
It is constituted by an act of Divine grace in baptism. It 
is personally realized and appropriated by acts of faith in 
Christ as the divine Redeemer from sin and Lord of life. 
This faith is primarily a personal attitude of devotion. But 
it is devotion to a Person whose life is shared by the whole 
redeemed community, and has been imparted to the indi- 
vidual soul only through membership in that community. 
By his acts of faith, therefore, the individual shares in a 
corporate communal life of faith. The object of his devotion 
is a historical Figure to whom the community is linked, not 
only by interior mystical experience, but by an external 
succession of historical events. Thus in the Catholic form 
of experience there is involved something else besides the 
purely personal attitude of faith, which Protestants incul- 
cate. Inseparable from this personal attitude of faith is 
an acceptance of the historical tradition of the community 
as to the form which the redemptive action of God took in 
history. 1 For that which binds the community together is 
their common faith in God and knowledge of Him. And 
for that knowledge, as we have already seen, they are 
dependent, not only upon a revelation, but upon the definite 
form in which that revelation was given through a series 
of redemptive acts centering round the historical figure of 
Jesus Christ. This analysis shows why dogma must always 

J The course of historical criticism has shown that the modern 
inquirer cannot hope to get behind the judgment of the original com- 
munity in interpretation of the Life of Christ, Cp. Bethune Baker, 
Faith of the Apostles' Creed, chapter i. 



78 THE NECESSITY OF CATHOLIC DOGMA 

have a fundamental place in a social order which is at the 
same time fully Christian, or, in other words, in any adequate 
embodiment of the Kingdom of God on earth. In defining 
the idea of the Kingdom of God above, it was said that with 
a " common recognition of God as the ground of human 
life goes a mutual dependence of men upon one another." 
In the redeemed community we have found that this mutual 
dependence of individuals upon one another through a 
common faith in God involves a common acknowledgment 
of dogmatic statements about events in history. To this 
we may now add that besides assertion of events, such dogma 
must include a metaphysical interpretation of events. For 
the value of the events Jor knowledge is that their acceptance 
involves a particular view of God and His relations with the 
world. The Christian social values, then, are bound up 
with an experience of redemption which involves dogmatic 
beliefs. Dogmatic statements, such as the creeds, express 
so far as human language can, a bcdy of truth about God 
and His dealings with man which is the basis of the religious 
experience of the community, and therefore the basis also 
of that type of social life which flows from such experience. 
Those who seek to disengage the Christian social ideals and 
their inspiration from their dogmatic and historical founda- 
tions are unscientific, because they ignore the testimony of 
those religious experiences which are our only source of 
information on the subject. They are also unpractical, 
because the distinctively Christian view of God came to us 
through a series of unique events in history, and has been 
preserved in dogmatic form. To cut away these historical 
and dogmatic elements means inevitably to exchange the 
Christian view of God for a vague doctrine of immanent 
spirit which has no sort of answer to the social problems of 
our day. For if God has not shown us that He transcends 
the sequence of natural events, then w have no ground 
1 See pagt 66. 



THE NECESSITY OF CATHOLIC DOGMA T9 

for any hopes or aspirations which transcend the 
natural tendencies of civilization as we see them at work 
to-day. 

But those whose outlook is inspired by the Catholic Creed 
are able to hope confidently for a social regeneration which 
utterly transcends the resources of human nature, because 
they find at work in themselves creative influences which 
are precisely of this supernatural quality. They believe 
that they share in a fellowship in which the Holy Spirit 
dwells. They believe that He pervades the personal life of 
each member of the community. In their personal experi- 
ence of the workings of His grace they find a close analogy 
to the miraculous events of the Gospel. For them grace is 
not simply a vague immanent influence assisting the nobler 
impulses of human nature. Such an idea as that must always 
be in conflict with their normal experience. For the deepest 
element in that experience is not simply achievement of 
successful advance in the development of character, but a 
repeated impact of divine power upon human weakness. 
As ideals are pitched high, so the sense of natural human 
insufficiency to attain them is intensified. Yet failure is 
met again and again by the miracle of divine forgiveness, 
which absolves them of the past and renews in them that 
reconciliation with God which is the basis of their life in the 
community. Thus chains of habit are broken and new begin- 
nings are continually made. At every moral crisis there 
descends upon the vacillating human will in its hour of 
temptation a power more than human, which recreates 
energy and renews hope of possibilities beyond natural 
expectation. Thus moral progress is experienced, not as 
an achievement in conformity with nature, but as a divine 
gift which comes from beyond nature, and which carries 
the will to its end in defiance of natural tendencies. And the 
action of grace is experienced as a series of supernatural 
events, each of which embodies the creative power of God ; 



80 THE NECESSITY OF CATHOLIC DOGMA 

the whole series transcending the ordinary series of 
natural events, to which it stands in the strongest possible 
contrast. 

This action of the Holy Spirit upon human personality 
opens the way to the transformation of all personal relation- 
ships, for its range covers the whole community, and its 
tendency is to bring all into conformity with the moral 
ideal embodied in the life of Christ. But here we must note 
that this does not mean simply a process of imitation. It 
is true that one of the bonds uniting Christians together is 
their recognition of a common standard of morality. The 
foundations of that standard were laid in the Old Testament, 
and it was set forth finally in personal form in the life, acts, 
and words of Jesus Christ. But neither obedience to a moral 
code nor imitation of the highest ideal of character are in 
themselves sufficient to break down the barriers of individual- 
ism, to eliminate the isolating effects of egoism, and to weld 
men together into a living, world-wide, moral fellowship. 
Even social psychology is abandoning this artificial and 
external idea of imitation. 1 Moreover, it would offer a very 
inadequate explanation of the interior action of grace which 
we have been considering. For the Holy Spirit who thus 
transforms personality is the Spirit of Christ. His mission 
in the Church is to reproduce in human personality, not 
simply the principles or virtues exhibited in the life of Christ, 
but that very life itself. If virtue were men's true good, 
then grace would only need to bring them into conformity 
with an ideal pattern of humanity. Such a process would 
only be one of sanctified self-culture. Its end would be 
nothing but the self-centred perfection which formed the 
ideal of pagan ethics. But it is the mission of the Spirit 
to destroy such egoism, which is the greatest obstacle to 
the reign of God over human society. Moreover, regarded 
simply as an ideal example, the life of Christ could never be 
Follett, op. cit. 



the pattern of mere ethical self-realization. For the out- 
standing feature of His earthly life is the sacrifice of the 
Cross ; and the Cross makes havoc of all merely moral 
solutions of the social problem. It repudiates the various 
naturalistic western doctrines ancient and modern, which 
all alike postulate self-centred personality as the unit of 
society. But it repudiates also the idea of self-renunciation 
as an end in itself, or for any lesser end than the highest. 
The Cross declares as its principle the sacrifice of self to the 
glory of God, the surrender of self for the achievement of 
the divine purpose. This is a unique sociological principle 
which can never proceed from a doctrine of the natural 
immanence of divine Spirit. 1 It means the surrender of 
self, not to the spirit immanent in human society, but to 
Him who is above both self and society, at whose bar both 
must stand for judgment. It means the surrender of self 
to One whose will is the basis of objective right for all men. 
Yet self is not surrendered to abstract right, for the move- 
ment is on the higher plane of personal relationships. And 
thus it is that human life is actually achieved and finds itself 
through the surrender which the Cross claims from it. For 
it is only by the sacrifice of self in surrender to the divine 
will that the egoism of self can be destroyed in such a way 
that personality is liberated. Sacrifice for any lesser end 
would be dangerous. But in yielding himself to God a 
man yields himself to the divine purpose for human society, 
and becomes truly himself in the measure in which he is 
made one with that purpose. Thus the sacrifice of the 
Cross embodies the deepest law of personal life. 

Now, according to the Catholic doctrine of redemption, 
the Son of God brought this life-principle of the Cross out 
of the inner life of God down to the level of man, and there 

1 The idea that it can be grafted on to such a doctrine is the mis- 
take made by Royce in The Problem of Christianity. It is also per- 
haps the characteristic error of current theological modernism. 

6 



82 THE NECESSITY OF CATHOLIC DOGMA 

wrought it out Himself in His own life as an achievement 
at once divine and human. As God He did what man by 
himself never could do ; and yet He did it also as Man on 
behalf of mankind. It was fitting that He who was born 
of a Virgin by a new creative act of God should thus, by 
another divine creative act through His death, bestow upon 
mankind a new spiritual possession, something so great and 
ultimate that it has never been adequately defined in words ; 
but which makes possible at once the reconciliation of man 
with God and of men with one another. We must pass 
over deeper questions involved in this mystery of atone- 
ment and confine ourselves here to one fact. In the redeemed 
community the Holy Spirit imparts to human personality 
the life of Christ ; not merely its life-principle of sacrifice, 
nor its human perfections, but the actual divine life of Him 
in whose image man was made and for whose glory he exists. 
Nothing less than this can be claimed as the inner meaning 
of the experience of redemption. Yet that which is imparted 
is the life of Christ crucified ; and it is the Spirit's mission 
to reproduce the life of the Crucified in all men. Thus the 
aim of the Gospel is, in the first instance, neither to make 
men moral nor even social, but to reintegrate the broken 
fragments of humanity by infusing into them the life of 
God. The infused life is a crucified life which reproduces 
the mark of the Cross upon human personality, making it 
flexible and capable of fellowship through self-surrender. 
Yet the surrender is first of all to God. It is not a social 
compromise ; but a consecration of personality to Him who 
is the ground of both self and society. Thus all human 
relationships are to be harmonized by a way which leads 
all men back to God. 

Thus far we have been considering the transformation of 
personal relationships in society through an interior redemp- 
tion of personality. But the body and its outward connec- 
tions have also a fundamental place in the scheme of redemp- 



THE NECESSITY OF CATHOLIC DOGMA 88 

tion. All social relationships are through the medium of 
our bodily life. A full redemption of man, therefore, will 
take into its scope the whole social structure and all the 
outward order of human life as it is lived in the body. The 
dogma that '' the Word was made flesh " declares the goodness 
and value of everything that belongs to the common life of 
man and its outward expression. It reasserts the truth of 
Creation that " God saw everything that He had made, and 
behold it was very good." The same truth is emphasized 
in another way by the miracle of the Resurrection. The 
body of the Lord was raised from the tomb as a natural 
corollary of all that had gone before. When the Son of 
God took a human body to Himself, He proclaimed the 
sacredness of everything belonging to man's bodily life. 
When, therefore, He had completed His redeeming act of 
sacrifice on the Cross, His spiritual victory was most appropri- 
ately declared not merely in survival of the soul, but in a 
resurrection of the body. In this way it was made plain 
that the whole of human life, body as well as spirit, had been 
redeemed. Again, it was upon this fact of the resurrection 
that men's faith chiefly rested in the days when the new social 
order first appeared. On the strength of this fact they 
looked for a new era upon earth. 1 To those who believe 
in the resurrection it is natural to hope for a redemption 
of society. For it follows from this article of the Creed that 
material things have a permanent spiritual value and signifi- 
cance, and that there can be no true redemption of man's 
life unless his material existence be included. The same 
truth is enforced by the institution of the sacraments, which 
Catholics value highly because they bring the bodily life 
into the heart of religion, and make the most solemn religious 
acts to have a deeply social character. According to 
Catholic doctrine the sacraments are means whereby we 
receive divine grace through material things. Though people 

1 Acts iii. 13-21. 



84 THE NECESSITY OF CATHOLIC DOGMA 

do not always understand the social significance of the Creed 
they profess as could be wished, the sacraments are generally 
understood among Catholics to mean that religion is a social 
force which has affinity with all true interests of human 
life and that it is capable of lifting these things to a higher 
level. The same cannot be said of those changes in religion 
which Protestantism introduced, and upon which it has 
nourished our present civilization. For it reduced religion 
to a private pietism which concerned the soul of man and 
not his body, the individual and not society as a whole ; 
which set out to touch only a little circle of personal duties, 
not to effect the redemption and consecration of all that 
adorns human fellowship. It reduced theology to a ration- 
alism which was unfettered by respect for common tradition. 
Thus it dissolved the authority of dogma, and left men free 
to build up all the relationships of life on a basis of opportun- 
ism and self-interest. Deeply rooted in this type of religion 
is the Manichean tendency, which divorces the soul from the 
body, because the material world is thought to be unworthy 
of being yoked to the life of the spirit. This tendency lies 
behind almost everything that is degrading in our modern 
civilization. It has developed, as we have already seen, a 
culture which is introspective and subjective in form ; and 
it has handed over the external world to a mechanism separated 
from spiritual values, which mocks and denies all efforts of 
the human spirit to recover control over it. 

In contrast to this, Catholicism with its doctrine of the 
resurrection of the body asserts that the subject to be 
redeemed is not simply the soul, but the whole world of 
human personality with its unity of body and spirit. A 
social order based on Catholic dogma would therefore reverse 
the whole of that tendency which in our present order drives 
a wedge of separation between spiritual realities and the 
material structure of society. That separation vitiates every- 
thing at present. It narrows the scope of religion and hinders 



THE NECESSITY OF CATHOLIC DOGMA 85 

it from its natural function of maintaining justice, liberty, 
and fellowship, and inspiring simplicity, craftsmanship, and 
art in every activity of life. It makes culture aristocratic 
and science materialistic. In religion those who have lost 
the sacramental tradition often find it hard to-day to see 
any value in the resurrection of the body. This is natural 
enough ; for it is only Catholicism which, by making sacra- 
ments the centre of religious experience, provides its adherents 
with a constant present experience of the dignity of material 
things and their capacity for becoming the medium of spiritual 
values. Above all in the central rite of the Eucharist, 
where the highest religious act takes place, there is set forth 
a living symbol of what a restored Christendom would be. 
In that rite the redemptive value of God's sacrificial love 
is declared to be the basis of a new human fellowship. It 
is a world-wide fellowship of all men, in which all have the 
same privileges without distinction of nationality, sex, or 
class, because all are sons and daughters of God, and as such 
are admitted to His banquet in perfect equality. They 
hold communion with God and with one another through 
material gifts of Bread and Wine ; a sign that there can 
be no true life of the spirit which is not democratic and social, 
capable of expressing itself through the common acts and 
habits of daily life. As this rite centres round the simplest 
and most universal acts of man eating and drinking, so 
a restored Christendom will take for its norm not the power 
and interests of the few, but the elemental needs of the 
common people. This sacrament of simple acts is surrounded 
by Catholics with all the external beauty and dignity which 
human art can devise. So, too, in a restored Christendom 
all the common acts of daily life and labour will be redeemed 
from their present dependence upon a degrading economic 
system, which stifles the workers' natural pride in good 
work by depriving them of any human interest in their 
tasks. Worship and work will be redeemed from their 



86 THE NECESSITY OF CATHOLIC DOGMA 

present separation ; for work will be done in the spirit of 
a great common act of worship. Each individual will con- 
tribute to the whole the best that is in him according to his 
capacity and in harmony with the common need. Thus a 
whole world of human skill and creative power will be 
redeemed from slavery to selfish material interests, and will 
furnish a sacrifice acceptable to God and beautiful in the 
eyes of men. 



THE RETURN OF "THE KINGDOM 
OF GOD" 

BY 

Rev. P. E. T. WIDDRINGTON 

Rettor of Great Eastern, Dunmow 



88 THE RETURN OF 



SYNOPSIS 

The influence of the Church negligible, not because of its divisions, 
but because it is not agreed as to the essential nature of its Gospel. 
If it is to regain its moral authority, its first duty is to make the 
fundamental character of its message clear. Is the Christian Gospel 
nextworldly or otherworldly ? Is it world-denying or world-affirm- 
ing ? The apologia of Troeltsch an acknowledgment of defeat. 

OUR STANDPOINT. 

The breakdown of Western civilization due to the renunciation 
of God by the nations. The decadence of personal morality 
the inevitable consequence of the abandonment of religious 
sanctions as the basis of national life. Christian living postu- 
lates the background of a common life in which Christian values 
are embodied : the primitive Church and its organization ; the 
Mediaeval Church and its doctrine of the two polarities of God's 
activity. Revealed religion gives scanty countenance to the 
notion that spiritual values are independent of social justice. 
The Manicheism of the religious world not less than the Materi- 
alism of the non-religious world responsible for the present 
condition of things. 

The purpose of this essay to demonstrate the Kingdom of 
God as the essential character of the Gospel, and that upon the 
effective republication of the Gospel depends the fate of 
civilization. 

THE KINGDOM OF GOD. 

A phrase with a history : embodies the purpose of God in 
relation to the world. St. Augustine's argument in The City 
of God. The Theocratic idea. The function of The Law. 
Montefiore quoted. The struggles of the two centuries before 
Christ and the development of the sense of Divine Purpose in 
history. The conflict one between Religion and Materialism. 
The Apocalyptists. 

The phrase " The Kingdom of God " cannot be understood 
apart from its context. Attempts made in Christian circles to 
evacuate the phrase of its content, and make it a synonym for 
personal salvation and immortality. Dr. Glover's Christ of 
Experience. 

Tendency of the religious world to import into the Gospels 
its own mentality it confuses Jamnia with Galilee. The mean- 
ing of " basileia '- to the average Jew of our Lord's day : a 



41 THE KINGDOM OF GOD" 89 

dominion inseparable from a domain. To the Jew, what was 
at stake was not the Sovereignty of God, but the actualization 
of that sovereignty in the world. The preaching of John the 
Baptist : practical not speculative. Josephus on the cause of 
John's imprisonment. 

THE TEACHING OF OUR LORD. 

He did not define " the Kingdom " : assumed that men knew 
what it meant. Spoke as one who saw the meaning of Israel's 
ideals and whose interpretations were based on " the mind of 
the Divine Author of the Law." Emphasized the requirements 
of the Kingdom on the individual : a new righteousness and a 
new citizenship. Nevertheless, His purpose not the salvation 
of the individual as such, but his redemption into the Kingdom 
of God. Luke xviii. 20, 21 discussed. 

The Kingdom a God-given Kingdom : the Kingdom of the 
Father. Cannot be established by force. " Force no attribute 
of God." Our Lord's dissociation of Himself from the turbulent 
and ugly nationalism of the time. Although the gift of God, 
admits the co-operation of human wills. 

The Kingdom the Vision of Reality. Mr. Glutton Brock's 
book. This aspect of the teaching belongs to the early period 
of the ministry. Conversion, the result of the vision of the 
Kingdom. 

The clarifications of the Kingdom idea made by our Lord : 
its universality and its recognition of sex equality. 

The second stage of the teaching : after Ca^sarea Philippi. 
In the first stage the Kingdom outlined : the method of its 
achievement occupies the second. In what sense was the 
Messianic consciousness of our Lord a development ? Mark ii. 
18-20, Luke iv. 16-22 from the outset associates the Kingdom 
with His person and work. His alleged hesitancy in avowing 
His Messiahship. His reticence and reserve. His transforma- 
tion of the received ideas of the Messiah more drastic than His 
treatment of the Kingdom. For the Messiah of tradition He 
substituted Himself : the Suffering Servant of Deutero-Isaiah, 
and prepared for the Baptism of the Passion the seal of His 
Messiahship. The Kingdom came out of the Passion, the Cross, 
the Resurrection, and the Ascension. It has no dynamic signifi- 
cance apart from them. It is the Messiahship of Jesus which 
gives to His teaching of the Kingdom its essentially " new " 
character. 

THE KINGDOM AND THE CHURCH. 

The Church a corollary of the Messiahship of Jesus. The 
Messianic Kingdom implies the continuance of a covenanted 



90 THE RETURN OF 

society. F. D. Maurice on the Church as the child of the Jewish 
polity. Dr. Hort's view of the relation of the Church to the 
Kingdom. The view of the first Christians. Apart from our 
Lord's claim to be Messiah, no doctrine of the Church in the 
Gospels. 

The effects of the transference of the Gospel to Gentile soil. 
Gradual disuse of the phrase " Kingdom of God." St. Paul. 
The phrase infrequent in apostolic literature. Thi3 no proof 
that the hope of the Kingdom abandoned. Dr. Burkitt's 
contrast between Reformed Rabbinism and early Christianity. 
Chilianism : its influence and ultimate condemnation. St. 
Augustine registered the close of the process by which " not of 
this world " became " not for this world." 

CONCLUSIONS. 

The paramount task of the Church to remaster its message. 
Not " the Gospel " but " the Gospel of the Kingdom." . . . 
The Kingdom of God regulative of our theology, the cardinal 
doctrine of our preaching and the touchstone by which all the 
activities of the Church are tested. This will involve a second 
Reformation. 

Obstacles in the path of making the Kingdom the regulative 
idea of theology. The work of the Ritschlian School and the 
prejudice aroused. Dr. Orr's view. Dr. Candlish. 

The defence of the Catholic Faith calls for a new apologetic. 
The two foes to-day, Manicheism in the Church and Materialism 
in society must be met. 

The Church exists to promote the Kingdom, not to replace 
it. Neglect of this truth marred the great achievement of 
Mediaeval Christendom. The Church became a usurpation and 
then a tyranny. The Church and its conception of sanctity. 
Detachment no excuse for shirking life's responsibilities. The 
revival of " vocation " as expressing the Christian demand on 
the ordering of society. The price of industrialism is the 
souls of men. 

The Church must ever witness to the God-givenness of the 
Kingdom. Ozanam and the two theories of Progress. 



"THE KINGDOM OF GOD" 91 




AT this time of economic and political crisis, the influence 
of organized Christianity on the affairs of the world is almost 
negligible. The cause is to be sought, not in the divisions 
of the Church they furnish a contributory cause but in 
the patent fact that the Church is not agreed as to the funda- 
mental character of the Gospel. Before it can hope to regain 
its moral authority over the nations, it must first arrive at 
a common understanding concerning the essential nature of 
its message. Is the Christian religion nextworldly or other- 
worldly ? Is it a world-denying or a world-affirming faith ? 
The widest divergence of opinion exists on these questions, 
and bewildered by the uncertain voice with which the 
Church speaks, men are ceasing to look to it for any guidance 
in practical affairs. Of what avail is it for the world to 
turn to the Church when they are told, by one of the foremost 
living Christian apologists, 1 that " Christianity has retired 
to the depths of the inner life, and at the same time risen 
to a height which transcends State and War and Culture 
the union of souls in a sphere above the earth, the sphere 
of the Highest and the Ultimate ? From thence Christianity 
still overcomes the world." 

To the writers of these essays the stupendous disarray of 
European civilization is due to the renunciation of God by 
the nations, and their repudiation of the Catholic tradition 
of the vassalage of every nation to the Kingdom of God. 3 

1 Troeltsch, quoted by Von Hugel, Th German Soul, p. 106. 
' Wisdom vi. 1-9. 



92 THE RETURN OF 

To us, the decadence of personal morality, believed by the 
devout within the Churches to be due to the weakening of 
Faith in dogmatic religion, is the inevitable aftermath of 
the abandonment at the Reformation of religious sanctions 
as the basis of social and international life. That Christian 
morality survived so many centuries is a testimony to the 
social ethics of Christendom. 

Christian living postulates the background of a common 
life in which Christian values are embodied. In Holy 
Scripture the revelation of God is conditioned by the existence 
of just relations among men. To this the New Testament 
is no less a witness than the Old. Early Christianity 
exhibited the phenomenon of an organized community with 
a life of its own. The Mediaeval Church, by its doctrine of 
the two polarities of God's activity the State and the 
Church secured the recognition of the essentially religious 
character of the economic and other relations of society. 
Revealed religion does not ask men to make bricks without 
straw. One of the points by which it is differentiated from 
the religions which men have made for themselves is that 
it inheres in the common life, and gives scanty countenance 
to the notion that spiritual and moral values are independent 
of social justice. In modern times the religious world has 
suffered from over-refinement : a result to some extent, in 
this country, of its bourgeois environment. In the Ages of 
Faith this over-refinement would have been called " Mani- 
cheism." By whatever name it is called, its results have been 
disastrous. They can be repaired only by a return to the 
central doctrine of Our Lord's teaching the Kingdom of 
God. The purpose of this chapter is to demonstrate the 
Kingdom of God as the essential character of the Gospel ; 
as a social conception at every stage of its development ; and 
that the revival of the influence of the Church on national 
and international affairs will follow when once the Kingdom 
of God becomes the regulative idea of our theology and 



"THE KINGDOM OF GOD" 93 

propaganda : to demonstrate, in a word, that upon the 
effective republication of the Gospel depends the fate of 
civilization. 

" The Kingdom of God " is a phrase with a history. 
Saint Augustine argues in The City of God " l that the 
Kingdom of God, of which Christianity is the completion, 
has always existed ever since there were men, and that it 
has a connected, though sometimes hidden existence, during 
the whole course of history. It is the motif which runs 
through the Holy Scriptures and makes of the Bible one 
book. The religion of Israel derived its unique force amongst 
the religions of the ancient world by reason of its faith in 
the sovereignty, the Kingship of God, and His purpose for 
human life. It is the glory of the Hebrew prophets and 
apocalyptists that they consciously apprehended and developed 
the idea around which the hopes of all mankind centre. 
What distinguished the Jewish people from the other peoples 
of antiquity was not " monotheism," but their unswerving 
conviction that this world was meant to be the scene of a 
Divine Order with ramifications in every department of life. 
They were the chosen instrument through which this Divine 
Order was to be achieved. The sin and the misery of the 
world was that it was living apart from the Law of God. 
Their devotion to the Law rested on the belief that the Law 
was given by God as the means of enabling men to live in 
just relations. " The Law was not a mere external law, 
fulfilled from fear of punishment and for hope of reward. 
It was the law of the All-Wise and all-righteous God, given 
to Israel as a sign of supremest grace. It was a token of 
divine affection and its fulfilment was the highest human 
joy." * The struggles of the two centuries before Christ 
intensified these convictions. The conflict of Judaism with 
Grseco-Roman civilization was not merely the conflict of 

1 De Civitale Dei, xviii. 47. 

Montefiore, Synoptic Gospels, ii. 513. 



94 THE RETURN OF 

one civilization with another. It was the conflict between 
religion and materialistic civilization, fought on national- 
istic lines. To the Jew with his unbroken tradition of the 
Living God the " I will become what I will become " J 
it was justice, God's justice, for which he fought, and for 
the Moral Law revealed by God as opposed to the mores of 
the Gentiles. In those two centuries the idea of the King- 
dom exercised an increasing influence on Jewish thought. 
It was the heroic epoch of their national life. The Jews 
played a more prominent part on the world's stage than 
they had ever occupied. It was the turn which Jewish 
history took more than any conscious process of thought 
which led to the explication of the idea of the Kingdom, 
or, as it was commonly called in the apocalyptic writings, 
" the coming age." The world of the apocalyptists was 
a larger world than that of the prophets. In the Book 
of Daniel, as Mr. Edwyn Bevan has pointed out, " the 
great Gentile Kingdoms, like the Greek supremacy of the 
Seleucids and the Ptolomies, which seemed so overwhelming 
and terrible, are shown as phases in a world process whose 
end is the Kingdom of God." * The coming of the Kingdom 
of God is perceived to mean more than the triumph of 

" I will become what I will become," Dr. Burney in Contentio 
Veritatis, p. 181. The name Jehovah seems to mean " He who will 
become," and that passage (Exodus iii. 13-15) in which the name 
is elucidated by the statement, " I am what I am," or rather, " I 
will become what I will become," implies that no words can ade- 
quately sum up all that the God of Israel will become to His chosen 
people, etc. The reference is to Driver in Studia Biblica i. pp. 12 fl. 

* Jerusalem under the High Priests, p. 86. Cf. The Beginnings of 
Christianity, Foakes Jackson and Kirsopp Lake, p. 278. " The fact 
that the exact phrase, the Kingdom of God, is not found earlier than 
the Gospels, though the idea represented by it in the Rabbinic 
literature is drawn from the Prophets, renders it impossible to say 
with certainty what the phrase must have meant in the Gospels, 
and to use this meaning for their interpretation. The only reason- 
able method is to interpret each passage in which it is found in 
accordance with its context." 



'THE KINGDOM OF GOD" 95 

Israel : it is triumph of Religion over Materialism, the 
visible justification of the ways of God to man. " The true 
and universal religion must be born of a nation, but it 
must rise above it." * 

It is not germane to this essay to enter into a discussion 
of the phases through which the Apocalyptic Hope passed. 
The point I desire to emphasize is that " The Kingdom of 
God " in the Gospels is a phrase with a history, and cannot 
be understood apart from that history. For so much that 
has been written and is currently believed in Christian circles 

Dr. Glover in his recent book, The Christ of Experience, is an 
example of this tendency in modern theology. 

" Messiah was done into Greek, and became more a personal name 
than a description. ... So while the title ' Christ ' survived, th 
' Kingdom of God ' fell into the background, and in spite of efforts 
being made to bring it forward again, it is possible to maintain that 
' salvation ' was an expression that could carry a larger burden of 
Jesus' meaning. . . . What interested the Greek was not the 
restoration of a kingdom to a generalized Israel, or anything else, 
in the plural or abstract, but the development of his own soul, mind, 
and nature, and its securing amid all the changes of worlds and 
aeons " (pp. 36, 7 and 8). 

It is because the revival of the Kingdom as the regulative principle 
of our theology and the motive of our propaganda will purge the 
Church of associations with the modern equivalents of Mystery Cults, 
Neo-Platonism, etc., and maintain the Catholic belief in the Old 
Testament as containing a revelation independent of the revelation 
of Jesus Christ, that we stress the necessity of insisting on the 
historical antecedents of our Lord's teaching. 

Cf. also Stalker's Christology : " . . . Although Jesus published His 
Gospel under the form of a doctrine of the Kingdom of God, it may 
be doubted whether He did this strictly on His own motion or rather 
under stress of circumstances, adapting His teaching to the modes of 
thought current in His time " (p. 25). 

Notice the curious remarks on p. 166 : "To many Christians, 
living under republican forms of government, the very name is 
foreign and out of date. Whatever be the case in Germany, to our 
ears the phrase as a name for Christianity has a sound of preciosity 
and make-believe ; and there are far better names for the same 
thing. . . . Jesus, before the close of His life, outgrew it ; and His 
teaching seems always trying to escape from its fetters. . . . The 
phrase belongs, in short, to the ' body of humiliation '" (p. 165). 



96 THE RETURN OF 

either ignores the history of the phrase or assumes that our 
Lord used it in a way and placed upon it a connotation 
which divorced it from its previous associations. To all 
intents He might have coined the phrase, or adopted any 
other which would have expressed His ruling ideas of the 
sway of God in the life of the individual, salvation, and 
immortality. To interpret the Kingdom of God apart 
from its context is to cut off the teaching of Jesus from the 
great religious tradition out of which it arose and of which 
it is the fulfilment. Jettison the belief that " God at sundry 
times and in diverse manners spake in time past unto the 
prophets," and you undermine the faith of the Catholic 
Church that " in these last days He hath spoken unto us 
by His Son." Historical Christianity rests on the affirmation, 
" Salvation is of the Jews." 

The tendency of the religious world is to import into the 
Gospels its own mentality. Its long sojourn at Jamnia l 
puts it at a grave disadvantage in any attempt to explore 
a situation in which religion was very intimately bound up 
with material things. The truth of this observation is 
demonstrated by a study of the bulk of the interpretations 
which have been made of the phrase " the Kingdom of God." 
That the word translated basileia means literally "Reign," 
and not the sphere in which the reign is exercised, is true. 
But to assume that in our Lord's day it meant " reign," rather 
than a definite sphere and polity in which the reign should 
be actualized, to any but a handful of pedants, is grotesquely 

J Jamnia was the village to which Johanan ben Zakkai retired 
during the siege of Jerusalem and where he settled to the task of 
reforming the Rabbinic religion by purging it of apocalyptic beliefs. 
The apocalyptic beliefs passed into the keeping of the Christian 
Church. Dr. Burkitt has drawn a striking contrast between Reformed 
Rabbinism and Early Christianity (Jewish and Christian Apocalypses, 
pp. 12-13). Modern Chr.otians would be much more at home in 
the vineyard at Jamnia than in the fiercely expectant atmosphere 
of the early Christian Churches. 



"THE KINGDOM OF GOD" 97 

untrue. To the average Jew the term connoted a dominion 
inseparable from a domain. 1 The proclamation of the 
Sovereignty of God, conceived as apart from the ordering 
of this world in righteousness, could not have been made 
the occasion of a preaching which secured a hearing from 
Jews of the first century. The Jew had always believed 
in the sovereignty of God. What was at stake was the 
realization of that sovereignty in the world. " The King- 
dom of God," to the masses of our Lord's contemporaries, 
meant the outward manifestation of God's sovereignty, by 
His overthrow of the evil powers which held the world in 
thrall and the establishment of a kingdom in which the 
ancient hopes of God's people should be fulfilled. Such was 
the substance of the Messianic idea. It had been vulgarized 
by politicians, physical force revolutionaries, and by apoca- 
lyptists. The bitter struggles for national freedom and the 
bloody reprisals they had brought had made the Jew 
vindictive and revengeful. He thought of God as an ally 
in his schemes of national aggrandisement. He forgot the 
nobler teaching of the prophets. To a not inconsiderable 
section of the Palestinian populace, insurrection had become 
a business, with brigandage as a side line.* 

There were circles in which " the Hope and promises 
made to the fathers " had lost none of its purity devout 
coteries at Jerusalem and elsewhere. Political unrest and 
the opinion that the Messianic Kingdom could not be long 
delayed were widespread. Everywhere there was a tense 
atmosphere of expectation. This is evident from the imme- 

1 Stanton, The Jewish and the Christian Messiah, p. 217. " Con- 
nection with the Old Testament preparation and Jewish hopes fur- 
nishes a complete answer to those who would translate ' Reign ' 
instead of ' Kingdom of God.' Kingdom includes both ideas, that 
of His royal authority and of the realm over which He rules ; and 
both should be included. Cf. also Burkitt in Interpreter, vol. vii. 
No. 4, p. 14. 

Josephus, Antq., xvii. 10, 8. 

7 



98 THE RETURN OF 

diate response evoked by the preaching of the Baptist. The 
burden of his preaching was the imminence of the Kingdom, 
and an insistence on the moral repentance of the individual. 
Only the righteous Israelite could hope to enter into the 
blessings of the new order. The interest of the Baptist was 
practical. His mind was not speculative. He said nothing, 
as far as we know, to correct or amplify the current notions 
of the Kingdom. His concern was with the portentous 
fact that the Kingdom was near, and that men must make 
themselves ready for it. That the political revolutionaries 
made capital out of John's preaching to fan the flames of 
rebellion is probable, and borne out by the statement of 
Josephus that Herod threw John into prison " lest his 
influence might lead to some revolt. ." 1 

It is important for the argument of this essay to notice 
that the Baptist and our Lord are in agreement on a vital 
point concerning the Kingdom. They use the phrase as 
one which requires no definition. Both assume that men 
know what it is. In our Lord's teaching " the frequent 
formula ' the Kingdom of God is like ' refers not to the 
nature of the Kingdom, but to the conditions on which it 
must be entered, the character of its members, the manner 
of its progress, the signs of its coming, etc." There is nothing 
in the Gospels to show that our Lord meant by " the King- 
dom " something substantially different from what it meant 
to the men of his generation. If he did, then it was a mis- 
take to have used the term. There were others He might 
have employed : " the Good Time," " the Days of the 
Messiah," or " the Age to Come." His deliberate adoption 
of the phrase brought him at once into touch with the 
common people stirred to enthusiasm by the Baptist's preach- 
ing. Our Lord was never at home with the professionally 
religious and the " cultured." This may have been a reason 
why He chose the phrase in which the common man summed 
1 Josephus, Antq., xviii. 5, 2. 



'THE KINGDOM OF GOD" 99 

up his faith in God and the world. But the real reason of 
His choice was that it linked on His teaching to that of the 
prophets and carried with it a scriptural consecration. 1 

From the outset of His ministry, our Lord stands out as 
an independent teacher. He speaks as an authoritative 
interpreter : one who sees the meaning of Israel's ideals and 
elucidates and clarifies them. His claim is to fulfil the Law 
and the Prophets. There is no hesitancy in His claim. His 
rulings are " based on the mind of the divine author of 
the Law." J He places a new emphasis on the aboriginal 
and illimitable worth of the individual. He stresses and 
elaborates the requirements the Kingdom makes on those 
who would be its citizens. For the legal righteousness of 
His day He substitutes the new righteousness of the King- 
dom with its motive " that ye may be the sons of your 
Father in heaven." Although insistent on the inalienable 
value of the single soul, he, nevertheless, teaches that the 
purpose of the Father is not primarily the salvation of indivi- 
duals as such, but their union in the redeemed society of 
the Kingdom of God. The Kingdom never ceases to be a 
collective hope : a conception involving the life of man in 
all its relations " as broad as human life, as deep as human 
need." The attempt that has been made, on the strength 
of one saying, to make the Kingdom merely a synonym for 
an inward state of blessedness must now be regarded as a 
failure.3 Not even the authority of Matthew Arnold can 
save it. 

The Kingdom is the Kingdom of the Father. It rests 
on the character and nature of God. From the beginning it 
has been the purpose of God in history to permeate the life 

1 E. F. Scott, The Kingdom and the Messiah, chapter iv. 

Kirsopp Lake, op. cit. p. 294. 

3 Luke xviii. 20. Cf. Shailer Mathews, The Social Teaching of 
Jesus, p. 46 (note) ; E. F. Scott, op. cit. p. 108 ff ; Pluramer's 
St. Luke, p. 406. 



100 THE RETURN OF 

of man with the principles which belong to His character : 
to educate man into correspondence with " the world of 
invisible laws by which He is ruling and blessing His 
creatures." l Men have not of themselves the power to 
establish the Kingdom. It cannot, for instance, be estab- 
lished by force. " Force," as an early Christian apologist 
well said, " is no attribute of God." The Kingdom requires 
the consent of human wills. But while the Kingdom is the 
gift of God and His work, its coming can be accelerated by 
the faith and co-operation of men. 

How decisively our Lord dissociated Himself from the 
turbulent nationalism of his day is brought out in the 
indignant question he puts to those who carried out his 
arrest. " Are ye come out, as against a robber (cos em 
A^crrqv) with swords and staves to take me ? " Xrjcmijs is not 
the word for an ordinary robber, but for a member of a 
guerilla band. The " Penitent Thief " who was crucified 
with our Lord was a member of such a band. His repentance 
was repentance in the strict sense of rnetanoia. He had 
been a believer in the cruder forms of nationalism. The 
reproaches which he and his comrade hurled at Jesus were 
for not having helped them in their revolt against the foreign 
oppressor. As he hung on his cross, he came to understand 
the true nature of the Kingdom, and hails Jesus as its 
Messiah. 2 

There is an aspect of our Lord's teaching to which suffi- 
cient attention has not been paid : the Kingdom as the 
Vision of Reality. It may belong to the first stage of the 

1 Hort, Life and Letters, vol. ii. p. 273. 

Cf. the illuminating remarks in The Beginnings of Christianity, 
Part I, p. 289 ff., on our Lord's definite opposition to the policy of 
armed rebellion against the foreign oppressor, and the significance 
of the " non-resistant " teaching in the Sermon on the Mount. Also 
Savage's Gospel of the Kingdom, p. 6. Plummer's St. Luke (Inter- 
national Critical Commentary), on Luke xxiii. 39-43, and Westcott's 
Some Lessons of the R.V., p. 76. 



"THE KINGDOM OF GOD" 101 

teaching the stage which Baron Von Hugel I describes as 
" predominantly expansive, hopeful, peacefully growing," 
to the stage of " the plant parables, full of exquisite sym- 
pathy with the unfolding of natural beauty," but it is not 
to be neglected. Whatever may be the defects of Mr. 
Glutton Brock's book, What is the Kingdom of Heaven ? it 
has recalled to us this fact, that our Lord insisted that the 
Kingdom was something which men might see, if the}' would, 
here and now. The pure in heart shall see God, and God 
is to Christ " the Kingdom of Heaven in its utmost 
intensity, the reality at the heart of that reality." Con- 
version as He taught it is the result of the vision of the 
Kingdom : it is a change of mind under a new impression 
of the facts of life, a new orientation. Our Lord always 
speaks as one who sees the Kingdom. He is amazed at 
the blindness of those about Him. 

Tis ye, 'tis your estranged faces 
That miss the many splendoured thing. 

It is not necessary to dwell on His attitude towards the 
class distinctions of his time, and His identification of Him- 
self with those that labour and are heavy laden. 3 He 
illustrated in His own conduct the new law of brotherliness : 
" love on the footing of equality." Nor, again, need we 
insist on the sternness of his views on riches and of the 
effects of covetousness on the soul. But there are two 
clarifications of the idea of the Kingdom which must be 
noticed : its universality and its recognition of sex equality. 
Jesus transcended the narrow nationalism of contemporary 
Judaism. The new wine of the Kingdom fermenting in the 

1 Von Hugel, "Essay on Progress in Religion" in Progress and 
History, edited by F. S. Marvin, p. 114. 

Our Lord and His disciples must have been regarded by the 
Scribes and Pharisees among the ami ha-ares. Cf. Beginnings of 
Christianity, App. E. on "The Am Ha-ares." 



102 THE RETURN OF 

mind of Jesus broke the old bottles of Jewish particularism. 
John had insisted that not descent from Abraham, but 
moral righteousness was the passport into the new order. 
Our Lord carried the teaching of John to its logical con- 
clusion. If moral righteousness were the passport, then 
men everywhere had " kingdom capacity." The field of 
the kingdom was the world. The second clarification was 
not less astounding : the admission of women to equality 
of citizenship. Whatever may have been the case amongst 
the Jews of the Dispersion, Palestinian Judaism had steadily 
depressed the status of women. Our Lord brushed on one 
side the traditions of men. He recognized no superiority 
of the male personality over that of the female. He appealed 
to both men and women with the same arguments. The 
most profound of all his sayings was addressed to a woman. 
His attitude surprised His disciples as greatly as it offended His 
opponents. " They marvelled that He talked with a woman." x 
What is of paramount importance to the understanding of 
our Lord's teaching of the Kingdom is His own relation to it. 
Never was this more the case than at the present moment. 
We have seen that our Lord grouped his teaching around 
the idea on which all the hopes of His people had come to 
centre. He follows up the preaching of the Baptist. He 
develops His work. He comes forward as a reinterpreter of 
the Law, and elucidates its meaning by a criticism, humane, 
penetrating, inspired. He reawakens the sense of vision in 
a people in whom, owing to the weight of an authoritarian 
religion, vision was almost dead. He revitalizes the doctrine 
of the Fatherhood of God in such a way as to make men 
understand that the Kingdom was dependent on the loving 
purpose of God, and that on that purpose rather than on 
the activities of men rested the certainty of its achievement. 
Lastly, we have glanced at two instances illustrating the 
clarifications our Lord effected in the current conceptions 
1 St. John iv. 27. 



"THE KINGDOM OF GOD" 103 

of the Kingdom. But so far we have dealt with only one 
stage of the teaching. 

The incident at Caesarea Philippi is the dividing line 
between the two stages of our Lord's ministry. In the first 
stage the Kingdom has been outlined. The method of its 
achievement is now the dominant theme. From now 
onwards the Messianic character of the Kingdom is increas- 
ingly stressed. The term " Son of Man " is used in a defi- 
nitely Messianic sense. The Passion is predicted. Our 
Lord sets Himself to two tasks : to brace Himself for the 
Baptism which awaits Him at Jerusalem and to prepare 
the minds of the disciples for the supreme revelation of the 
Love and Power of God. 

The division of our Lord's ministry into two stages does 
not imply that in the earlier stage He had no knowledge 
of His Messiahship. It does imply that that knowledge 
underwent growth. In this it differed from His sense of 
Sonship which was a constant and unchanging experience 
" a unique consciousness of a unique relation." At both 
stages of His ministry He associated the Kingdom with 
His Person and work. From the outset, unless we are to 
displace Mark ii. 18-20, He had the foreboding of a tragic 
end to His career. The story of the Temptation, if we dis- 
allow the view that the accounts in Matthew and Luke are 
coloured by subsequent events, indicates that the problem 
of reconciling the accepted ideas of Messiah with the intima- 
tions of His own consciousness, was with Him then. 1 The 

1 Professor Burney, in a sermon entitled The Old Testament Con- 
ception of Atonement Fulfilled by Christ (1920), has drawn attention 
to the Messianic significance of the incident in Luke iv. 16-22. 
" The passage in Isa. Ixi. which begins with the words ' The Spirit 
of the Lord is upon me, because He anointed me to preach good 
tidings to the poor ' . . . occurs in a group of chapters which are 
not the work of Deutero-Isaiah but of a later post-exilic prophet, 
who is, however, undoubtedly taking up and developing the earlier 
prophet's conception of the ideal servant. ... I do not know how 
the Lucan narrative is understood by those who hold that the 



104 THE RETURN OF 

precise moment when He became fully aware of what His 
acceptance of the Messianic role entailed, may be uncertain : 
the fact that He accepted the role is clear. For the proof 
" is not confined to a few isolated passages which might 
easily be eliminated, but lies at the heart of the narrative, 
and is meant to constitute its whole significance." l The 
reasons for His hesitancy in openly avowing his claim I 
do not propose to enter on. The reticence which He 
observed may not be easy to explain, but we are not there- 
fore compelled to accept explanations which make the 
consciousness of His Messiahship a late development. This 
is certain : "He felt that He stood in a unique relation 
to mankind, because He was chosen of God to be the vehicle 
to them of the revelation of His Mind and Will, to inaugu- 
rate a new era in the history of the world, and, at whatever 
cost to Himself, to be the means by which the Divine Order 
of human society, an order of righteousness, mutual help, 
and brotherhood, should be established." 3 It is not hard to 
see how His Messianic claim had its roots in His Message 
of the Kingdom. 

The change which our Lord wrought in the conception 
of the Messiah is the most startling and revolutionary thing 
in His teaching. It is the unfolding of the content of His 
Messianic consciousness which gives to His teaching of the 
Kingdom its essentially " new " character. He transfused 
the Messianic conception with His own spirit. He brought 
it into line with His own idea of kingliness. At length, after 
deep travail and perplexity of soul, He revealed His secret 

Synoptic Gospels witness to the fact that our Lord concealed His 
Messianic claims in the earlier stages of His ministry, and in fact 
until just before His Passion ; but it certainly appears from it that 
at a very early stage He was ready, before a suitable audience, to 
proclaim Himself Messiah in the sense in which He understood and 
assumed Messiahship." 

' E. F. Scott, op. cit. p. 169. 

Bethune Baker, Faith of the Apostles' Creed, p. 57. 



"THE KINGDOM OF GOD" 105 

to His disciples and spoke of the Baptism with which He 
must be baptized before He could enter upon His destined 
office. He takes to Himself the words of the Suffering 
Servant and interprets them as Messianic. " The Messiah 
a Servant. Not so had kingship been conceived. The 
Suffering Servant of the Prophet had not yet been commonly 
identified if even, as yet, identified at all with the 
Messiah." I He declares that by His death He will effect 
the coming of the Kingdom and render possible the life He 
has revealed to them. That life was more than a mere 
emancipation from material disabilities : it was redemption 
into the life of God. In a single phrase He epitomized the 
whole idea of the great chapter of Isaiah : of God's purpose 
fulfilled by one who dies for the common deliverance, 3 i.e. 
" give His life a ransom for many." At the Last Supper He 
anticipates the New Covenant to be established through 
His death. His death, Resurrection, and Ascension were 
the establishment of a New Covenant, the setting up of the 
Kingdom, and His Own enthronement as Messiah. The 
Kingdom comes out of the crucible of the Passion and the 
Resurrection. It has no meaning, and could have had no 
existence apart from them. 

It is at this point we can most conveniently pass to the 
consideration of the Church. The Church is a corollary of 
belief in the Messiahship of Jesus. The Messianic Kingdom 
implies the continuance of a covenanted Society. 

Our Lord's hope had been that the Jewish Church would 
rise to its mission. It was only after its apostasy was 
demonstrated that He began the training of the Twelve for 
their office in His Ecclcsia which is less a new creation than 
the completing and fulfilling of the Ancient Church of God. 
You cannot cut off the entail which binds the Christian to 
the Jewish Church. " The Church," as Frederick Denison 

1 C. G. Montefiore, Liberal Judaism and Hellenism, p. 104. 
1 Mark x. 43. 



106 THE RETURN OF 

Maurice says, ' was to the early Christians, certainly to 
the writer of the Acts, the child which the Jewish polity 
had for so many ages been carrying in its womb." The 
Church is the new Israel, the herald and instrument of the 
Kingdom. " We may speak of the Ecclesia as the visible 
representative of the Kingdom of God, or as the primary 
instrument of its sway, or under any other analogous forms 
of language. But we are not justified in identifying the 
one with the other, so as to be able to apply directly to 
the Ecclesia whatever is said in the Gospels about the King- 
dom of Heaven or of God." : The Church was to the first 
believers the " Way " in which the laws of the Kingdom 
were in operation : it was the " community of the Messiah 
and therefore the New Israel." What was involved in 
those premises was not clear to them, but it was from these 
premises that the Catholic Church was evolved. Apart 
from the acceptance of these premises, it will always be 
open to men to argue that Our Lord did not found a Church, 
and that ecclesiastical Christianity is foreign to His intention. 
You cannot, if you expunge the belief in our Lord's claim 
to be the Messiah, build up a doctrine of the Church from 
the Gospels. The facts of the training of the Twelve and 
the Incident at Caesarea Philippi are insufficient in them- 
selves. The interpretation of certain parables as parables 
of the Church rather than as what they profess to be, para- 
bles of the Kingdom, is arbitrary and unjustifiable. There 
is no ground in the first chapter of the Acts for believing 
that the teaching after the Resurrection was concerned with 
the details of Church polity. " We do not need any special 
passages to prove that Jesus intended to found a religious 
society. It was implicit in his claim to be Messiah." 3 

The Church, almost from the start, found itself plunged 
into conflict and battling for its very existence. Absorbed 

1 Hort, The Christian Ecclesia, p. 19. 

Hamilton, People of God, vol. ii. p. 19. 



"THE KINGDOM OF GOD" 107 

by that conflict, aliens from their own mother's sons, 
treated with suspicion wherever they went, it is easy to see 
how the Church, in the minds of its members, tended to 
take the place of the Kingdom as the sphere in which the 
blessings of the New Age were to be enjoyed. Again, as 
Ritschl observes, 1 " Cares about the formation of congrega- 
tions came so much to the front, that the entire moral 
interest was concentrated on their internal consolidation." 
The opening up of the Gentile world brought with it the 
problem of translating the idea of the Kingdom into the 
language of peoples to whom the belief in the effective 
sovereignty of God was unfamiliar. That the Gospel of 
the Kingdom lost something in its transmission to Gentile 
soil was inevitable and is evident from the study of the 
Pauline Epistles. That it was preached is proven. 

When we reach the writings of the Apostolic Fathers, 
the Kingdom has receded into the background. With the 
exception of a saying of our Lord concerning the coming of 
the Kingdom in the so-called Second Epistle of Clement, 3 
references are few and far between. But the absence of 
references to the Kingdom in post-apostolic literature, does 
not mean that Christians were not awaiting and working 
for the Coming Age. " In the cities of the Empire, in the 
churches whose membership was drawn from the slave class 
and the poorer freemen, the belief was steadfast. " The 
Kingdom of God is at hand." A new world, a wholly new 
state of things is on the point of arriving ; watch and be 
ready, and above all, do not cumber yourselves with your 
old possessions, your old traditions, your old affections." 3 

1 Ritschl, Justification and Reconciliation, edited by Mackintosh, 
p. 284. 

1 " The Lord Himself, being asked when His kingdom would come, 
said, ' When the two shall be one, and the outside with the inside, 
and the male with the female, neither male nor female.' " 

J Burkitt, Jewish and Christian Apocalypses, p. 13. "I am not 
asking you to forget the personal influence of Jesus upon those who 



108 THE RETURN OF 

Chilianism was a mighty influence amongst the rank and 
file of the Church. It claimed not a few (for instance, 
Irenaeus) of the ablest men among its adherents. For four 
centuries at least the hope of the Kingdom, the common 
substance of which is the conviction that an order of life 
is possible on the earth in which righteousness, love, and 
peace are sovereign, maintained itself. 1 Then with the con- 
demnation of Millenialism, the faith in the Kingdom began 
to decay, and with St. Augustine is completed the formal 
identification of the Church with the Kingdom. The Vision 
Splendid melted away until the Kingdom became " not for 
this world." It had always been, and must always be, 
" not of this world." a 

I started with the plea that the paramount duty of the 
Church is to agree on the essentials of its message. For 
generations past the Church has preached what is called 
" the Gospel." The call to-day is to return to what the 
New Testament calls " the Gospel of the Kingdom " the 
Kingdom of God, the cardinal doctrine of our preaching, 
regulative of our theology, and the touchstone by which 
all the activities of the Church are tested. This will involve 
a Reformation in comparison with which the Reformation 
of the sixteenth century will seem a small thing. 

The task of building up our theology around the idea of 
the Kingdom is one requiring courage and presenting serious 
difficulties. It has been rendered more difficult than it 

accepted Him as their Master, for indeed without it you lose the 
cord that both binds the Christians together and supplies the current 
of their enthusiasm. But that enthusiasm of the early Christians 
was directed to the Good Time Coming." 

1 Bethune Baker, op. cit. p. 51-53. 

" This putting off to another life in another world of the hope 
of the Kingdom and the realization of its conditions is perhaps the 
greatest apostasy that the history of religions can disclose." Op, 
cit. p. 52 ; Hort, Christian Ecclesia, p. 19. 



"THE KINGDOM OF GOD" 109 

necessarily is owing to the prejudice aroused by Ritschl 
and his school. 1 We shall be told that such a system will 
lead to the loss of essential values : that we are minimizers 
and dangerous persons. Notwithstanding all the difficulties 
which are alleged, the task must be undertaken. 1 It is 
necessary for the defence of the Catholic Faith. For it will 
enable us to meet the arguments, so speciously advanced, 
which make of the Faith a syncretism of rather dubious 
Oriental beliefs. The Catholic Faith stands or falls by the 
truth of the revelation of God contained in the Old and 
New Testaments. If St. Augustine found the key to that 
revelation in the development of the idea of the Kingdom, 
surely we have grounds for believing that such a task has 
reason behind it ? 

Further, each age demands of the Church a new apolo- 
getic framed to meet its conditions. The two foes the 
Church must defeat are Manicheism within its own borders, 
and Materialism in the world outside. 

We cannot blind our eyes to the fact that there exists 
within the Church a large body of opinion which is sub- 
Christian, and whose real creed is a crude " salvationism." 
It offers no hope of a better world. It ignores the social 
nature of the Gospel. It regards the Kingdom as a purely 
spiritual idea. But, " to suppose that Christ meant by 
His Kingdom a purely ideal state, which would have no 
earthly expression as a society, is to say that the Apostles 
and subsequent generations of His followers misunderstood 
him. "3 Such a supposition cuts human experience in two. 
It disparages the present life and makes it a mere antecedent 
to the future, robbing it of intrinsic dignity and worth. It 
rests on a conception of " the individual " which is philoso- 

1 The topic is discussed by Dr. Orr, Christian View of God and 
the World, Appendix, " The Idea of the Kingdom of God." 
1 Cf. Candlish, The Kingdom of God, pp. 2-3. 
3 Freemantle, The World the Subject of Redemption, p. in 



110 THE RETURN OF 

phically false : " The individual soul " of the pietist is as 
much an abstraction as the " economic man " of the Classical 
economists. To quote a non-Christian writer, Mr. G. D. H. 
Cole : " The odd fact that man is at once soul and body 
forces itself into every social relationship, and binds together 
spirit and matter in a fashion which the philosophers have 
found it infinitely troublesome to explain. It is the most 
vicious of abstractions to take an aspect of human life and 
say of it : ' This at least is purely material.' That is, in 
a very real sense, ' the sin against the Holy Ghost.' l The 
theology of the Kingdom would purge the Church of that 
plausible insincerity which masquerades as " spiritual reli- 
gion." As Ruskin told the clergy, " It would be well if 
many of us, in reading that text, ' The Kingdom of God 
is NOT meat and drink,' had even got as far as to under- 
stand that it is at least as much, and that until we have 
fed the hungry, there was no power in us to inspire the 
unhappy." * 

The Church must have the courage of its Baptismal Creed 
with its first dogmatic assertion concerning Jesus that He 
is the Christ, the Messiah whose special function is to inau- 
gurate on earth the Kingdom of God. It must recognize 
that it is a means and not an end in itself.3 Its end is the 
Kingdom of God. So long as men serve the Church first 
and what it should promote second, they are not loyal to 
the Kingdom of God. There is an excusable tendency to 

1 Cole, Labour in the Commonwealth, pp. 31-32. 

Ruskin, Letters to the Clergy, p. 22. 

s " Modern pietists are accustomed to describe their favourite 
undertakings, especially foreign missions, directly as the Kingdom 
of God, but in doing so, while they touch the ethical meaning of the 
idea, they narrow its reference improperly. This circle, too, has 
brought the word into use to describe, e.g. the public affairs of the 
Church. . . . This use of the name involves the interchange of 
Church and the Kingdom which we find dominating Roman Catho- 
licism," and the writer might have added, " and Anglo-Catholicism." 
Ritschl, op. cit. p. ii. 



"THE KINGDOM OF GOD" 111 

exaggerate the great achievements of the Middle Ages, and 
to see in mediaeval civilization a Christendom as near per- 
fection as is possible in this imperfect world. But why did 
mediaeval civilization collapse ? There are reasons and 
reasons. I hold the true one to be because at the root of 
that civilization there was a lie. Mediaeval civilization 
identified the Church with the Kingdom of God. The 
Church, instead of promoting the Kingdom, replaced it. 
The usurpation of the Church and its disparagement of 
the other modes through which the Kingdom is built, 
brought with it the inevitable consequence. Catholicism 
degenerated into the slavish worship of its own organization, 
and that organization became a tyranny from which men 
at length revolted. The danger is not altogether a thing 
of the past. It has assumed a different form. The fact 
that the Church is an institution with large vested interests 
subjects it to the temptation of all large vested interests the 
temptation to make the protection of its own material well- 
being the dominating influence in its policy. Again, the 
Church has suffered its conception of sanctity to become 
stereotyped. The outlook of the devout tends to grow 
narrowed the more they advance in what is called the 
" spiritual " life. Detachment is not infrequently mis- 
understood, and used as an excuse for avoiding the obli 
gations of the common life. The intellectual meanness and 
narrow-mindedness of many of our devout people, both 
priests and laymen, are notorious. " So few make holiness 
in any sense their chief end that it may seem rash to speak 
against this, yet it is painfully true that even Christian 
faith becomes insipid and ineffective unless it confronts the 
world and is proved in the actualities and conflicts of life." * 
With a new orientation of our theology would come 
the recognition that the Kingdom which is being 
built is built up through the exercise of diverse gifts 
1 Dr. Denney. 



112 THE RETURN OF 

of the One Spirit, and we shall no longer standardize 
spirituality. 

One of the encouraging signs of the times is the revival of 
the idea of " vocation " in relation to the ordinary pursuits 
of life. If it is applied faithfully, it will, I am convinced, 
do more to awaken the social conscience of churchmen than 
all the appeals which have hitherto been made. It is better 
so. Social endeavour should not rest on the fear for public 
stability, but on a reverence for immortal souls. 1 The idea 
of " vocation " faithfully applied will reveal to the sincere 
but obscurantist Christian the appalling extent to which 
the present industrial system renders the idea inconceivable 
to multitudes of his fellowmen. How are men to develop 
the sense of vocation in the useless toil on which they are 
forced, through economic compulsion, to waste their energies ? 

Our life is turned 

Out of her course, wherever Man is made 
An offering or a sacrifice, a tool 
Or implement, a passive thing employed 
As a brute mean, without acknowledgment 
Or common right or interest in the end ; 
Used or abused as selfishness may prompt. 

Boys forced into blind alley occupations ; men and women 
engaged in the production of goods which it is an insult to 
a free man to have to produce, lives without interest and 
with no self-determination spent in an environment which 
degrades the soul and injures the body how, and in what 
sense are these to be taught the glory of the common life 
and the surpassing dignity of service ? 

Nor is the evil confined to the working hours : it affects 
the leisure time. The higher instincts are numbed and the 
whole life is vulgarized. " The greatest crime of our indus- 
trial and commercial civilization is that it leaves us a taste 

* Bussell, Christian Theology and Social Progress, p. 94. 
Wordsworth, The Excursion, Book IX. 



'THE KINGDOM OF GOD" 113 

only for that which can be bought with money, and makes 
us overlook the purest and sweetest joys which are all the 
while within our reach." l 

The Church, once delivered from ecclesiastical-mindedness 
and aflame with the faith of the Kingdom, will be compelled 
to adopt towards our industrial system the same attitude 
which our missionaries take towards the social order of 
heathendom. It will then challenge the Industrial World 
as it challenged the forces of Roman Imperialism in the 
days of persecution. 

We dare not deceive ourselves. That brighter and more 
perfect future, the consummation of the Kingdom of God, 
is only to be reached through much tribulation. God is 
the Maker of it. He has made it already in His Son. We 
are His fellow workers in bringing it to pass. The Church 
is the social leaven of the twice-born. " There are in reality 
only two doctrines of progress : the first, nourished in the 
schools of self-indulgence, seeks to rehabilitate the passions ; 
and promising the nations an earthly paradise at the end 
of a flowery path, gives them only a premature hell at the 
end of a way of blood ; the second, born and inspired by 
Christianity, points to progress in the victory of the spirit 
over the flesh, promises nothing but as the prize of warfare, 
and pronounces the creed which carries the warfare into 
the individual soul to be the only way of peace to the 
nations." 

1 Sabatier (Paul), St. Francis, p. 107. Ozanam. 



8 



THE MEDI/EVAL THEORY OF 
SOCIAL ORDER 

BY 

Rev. A. J. CARLYLE, D.Litt. 

Author of Mtdixval Political Thtory in the West, Vol. I. -IV , etc- 



116 



SYNOPSIS 

The Middle Ages despite their shortcomings believed firmly that 
the basic principle of social life was justice. This was generally 
conceived of as being embodied in law, which was null and void if 
contrary to the law of nature. Men knew nothing of an arbitrary 
and capricious authority, which constitutes a doctrine that is the 
greatest danger of our time. 

Mediaeval writers constantly testify to the belief that justice was 
the rationale of authority. Translated into modern terms, this means 
that the primary function of the State is a moral function : the State 
should have for its end the establishment of a moral order to which 
economic functions are subordinate. Bracton wrote that " there is 
no king when will rules, not law " i.e. there is no authority in 
society, if it is an arbitrary one. If the ruler failed to carry out 
the law, men were absolved from their feudal obligations to him. 
This is the origin of the theory of the social contract. 

Law did not normally present itself to men of the Middle Ages 
as something that was made. It was primarily custom, and so far 
as it was made was so by the acceptance of the whole community. 
It was further thought of as being the embodiment of justice, and 
as of no authority unless conformable to the " natural law." Law 
then was without validity unless it was the expression of something 
more than custom or will. 

Change became inevitable, since it was necessary to find a power 
behind the law which could alter the law ; reinterpretation and 
adaptation became insufficient. The process concealed itself behind 
the appeal to precedent. But the facts triumphed, and a distinction 
arose between legislative and judicial authority law coming to be 
regarded as the expression of the will of a supreme power which lay 
behind it. The doctrine of an absolute sovereign power was evolved 
and was set forth in its extreme form by Hobbes. Its effect has been 
mischievous in spreading the idea that the safety or convenience of 
the State is something which is beyond right and wrong. 

A similar economic theory arose naturally from the conditions of 
economic life in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Its natural 
consequence has been that economic-relations have taken on the aspect 
of a class war. This further testifies to the urgent necessity that 
we should return from the superstition of absolute authority. We 
have much to learn from a time when men believed justice, and not 
force, should be supreme. Our task is to work out this principle 
into a system consistent with modern conditions and capable of 
progressive development. 



OF SOCIAL ORDER 117 



CHAPTER V 
THE MEDIEVAL THEORY OF SOCIAL ORDER 

THERE may be considerable dispute as to the precise character 
of mediaeval civilization. Tothegood peopleof the Renaissance 
it seemed to be a mere barbarism, and perhaps the sentimental 
conceptions about it, common during the Romantic period, 
were almost as far from the truth. For the Middle Ages, 
as we are beginning to see, present us with a spectacle of 
bewildering complexity ; men were brutal, ferocious, immoral, 
and often ignorant ; but at the same time they were fired 
by a passion for beauty, which transformed almost every- 
thing that they touched ; they were indefatigable in their 
pursuit of truth, and they were often possessed by a sense of 
the spiritual. And, whatever were their shortcomings, they 
did at least believe firmly that the first and last principle of 
social life was justice. 

It is upon this that I am glad to have the opportunity to 
say a little. I do not suppose that my own judgment upon 
the mediaeval world or Church would correspond precisely 
with that of other writers in this volume, but I should agree 
with them in thinking that we have not yet recovered from 
the foolishness of the eighteenth century, and that we have 
a good deal to learn from a time when men did not confuse 
utility with principle, or imagine that the world advances 
by the reckless pursuit of self-interest. And perhaps to-day, 
when it seems clear that that illusory theory of the absolute 
sovereignty of the State, which was developed by the eccentric 
genius of Hobbes, and more or less accepted by some jurists 



118 THE MEDIAEVAL THEORY 

in England and America, is breaking down, it may be useful 
to remind ourselves of a time when this conception of 
sovereignty was not merely unknown, but would have seemed 
to serious men a form of lunacy. 

For the first, and in some ways the most essential aspect 
of the normal political thought of the Middle Age was that 
it knew nothing of absolute authority except the authority 
of justice, which was generally conceived of as being embodied 
in the law. In the State, as we should now call it, the king 
was not supreme, but the law, and in the Church it was not 
the Pope, but again the law ; and a law, whether of Church 
or State, was null and void if it was contrary to the law of 
nature, which Gratian identified with the law of God. 

It may seem paradoxical to those who are not familiar 
with the literature and the political life of the Middle Ages, 
but the real truth about them is that men knew nothing of an 
arbitrary and capricious authority, while in the deplorable con- 
fusions of the period of the Renaissance many Romanists and 
High Anglicans, and some Protestants, persuaded themselves 
to accept an arbitrary monarchy, and in our own day there 
is some danger lest we should imagine that we believe in an 
arbitrary absolutism of democracy. The most serious danger 
of modern society is not, as some very short-sighted critics 
imagine, the tendency to anarchy, but the desire to find some 
absolute and final authority. It is the doctrine of absolute 
authority which is the greatest danger of our time, and it is 
not less dangerous when it masquerades under the form of 
democracy. 

The first principle of mediaeval society was the supremacy 
of justice ; and justice was conceived of as embodied in law. 
The king, Bracton says, has two superiors, God and the 
law. This is the real meaning of the continual insistence 
upon justice as the rationale of kingship, which we find 
throughout the political literature of the Middle Ages from 
the ninth century onwards. The Abbot Smaragd, for instance, 



OF SOCIAL ORDER 119 

says: " Keep justice, O King, and judgment, this is the royal 
way trodden by the kings of old time. ... If thou desirest 
that God should establish thy throne thou shalt not cease 
to do justice to the poor." And the treatise, De duodecim 
abusivis saeculi, probably of Irish origin, which is frequently 
quoted in the ninth century, warns the king that he must 
not be unjust, but must restrain the unjust ; it is the proper 
purpose of his office to rule, but how can he rule and correct 
others unless he first corrects himself. Justice in the king 
means to oppress no man unjustly, to judge righteously 
between men ; to defend the weak, to protect the Church, to 
put just rulers over the kingdom ; to live in God and the 
Catholic faith, and to keep his children from evil. 

What such writers say was only repeated again and more 
emphatically by Bracton in the thirteenth century. The 
king, he said, is elected for this very purpose that he should 
do justice to all men, and that through him God may administer 
his judgments. The king is God's vicar upon earth, and it 
is his duty to divide right from wrong, the equitable from the 
inequitable, that all his subjects may live honestly and that 
no man should injure another. The king, therefore, should 
obey the authority of law (or right), as being the vicar and 
servant of God, for that alone is the authority of God : the 
authority of wrong belongs to the devil and not to God, and 
the king is the servant of him whose work he does. There- 
fore when the king does justice he is the vicar of the eternal 
King, but he is the servant of the devil when he does wrong. 

We can put this into modern, more abstract terms, if we 
say that the primary function of the State is a moral function ; 
that its primary end is the establishment of some moral order. 
This does not mean that we ignore what may be called the 
economic functions of organized society, but it does mean 
that we look upon them as subordinate to its moral function 
and end. And I venture to say that it is really high time that 
men should face this more resolutely. It has been said by 



120 THE MEDIAEVAL THEORY 

men of some economic authority that Western civilization 
is at the present time faced with a dilemma, it can be either 
rich or free, but it cannot be both. There are perhaps some 
people who would put the dilemma under other terms and say 
that we can be either rich or just, but not both. As an 
historical critic I profess I am profoundly sceptical of 
such dilemmas. I do not think that the experience of 
the world really affords any justification for the opinion 
that any society can in the long run be rich which is not 
attempting to be free and just. But, supposing the dilemma 
to have some truth, we shall do well to ask ourselves which 
it is that we choose. There is at least no doubt about the 
principle of the Middle Ages. 

To return to our immediate subject. To the mediaeval 
thinkers, the idea of justice was not a mere abstraction, for 
justice was embodied in the law. We may indeed think that 
their conception of the living movement of the world was 
limited and inadequate, but at least they did believe in 
some concrete system of order and right in life. 

I have already mentioned Bracton's great principle that 
the king had two superiors, God and the law, and it is worth 
while to look at this a little more closely. For to him the 
conception of that justice which the king must obey was not 
something elusive and intangible. In the first place and before 
all justice meant that which is expressed in the law, and 
without this Bracton could not conceive of authority at all. 
In another famous and admirable phrase he says, there is 
no king when will (that is capricious and arbitrary will) rules, 
not law ; there is no such thing as authority in society, if 
it is an arbitrary one. The king is under law precisely because 
he is God's vicar, for Jesus Christ whom he represents on earth 
willed to be under the law that He might redeem those who 
were under the law. The Blessed Virgin thus also submitted 
to the ordinances of the law. The king should follow these 
examples ; there is no man greater than the king in adminis- 



OF SOCIAL ORDER 121 

taring justice, but he should be as the least in receiving the 
judgment of the law. 

It is this clear hold upon the first principle of a reasonable 
order which explains how firmly these mediaeval thinkers 
could deal with the question of what was to be done if the 
ruler refused to carry out the law. The Assizes of Jerusalem 
do not hesitate either to lay down the principle, or to suggest 
how the principle should be enforced. The king, they say, 
has sworn to maintain the good usages of the kingdom, to 
protect the poor as well as the rich in the enjoyment of their 
right ; if he breaks his oath he denies God, and his vassals 
and the people should not permit this, for the lord is lord only 
of law (or right) and not of wrong. And, to their minds, the 
method of compulsion was simple ; they should withdraw 
their allegiance, and should refuse to carry out any of their 
feudal obligations until he submits. 

This is again the meaning of that conception of political 
society as an association of mutual obligation which is the 
proper characteristic of the principles of mediaeval life ; this 
is the meaning of the continual insistence upon the mutual 
oaths of king and people which constituted the essential 
aspect of the coronation ceremony, and out of which there 
grew the historical theory of the social contract ; not of 
course the confused and unhistorical conception of the 
seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. For this is the plain 
truth, the mediaeval theory of organized society was the 
theory of a contractual relation, a relation of mutual obliga- 
tion and service. This is obviously true of all feudal relations, 
but it was equally true of the larger political relation, which 
was for a time practically overlaid by feudalism, but which 
was older than feudalism and survived it. 

It is thus again that John of Salisbury finds it easy to 
distinguish between the king and the tyrant, for the king 
is one who governs according to the law, who maintains and 
enforces and obeys it, while the tyrant is one who rules by 



122 THE MEDIAEVAL THEORY 

violence, who overrides the law, and thus reduces the people 
to slaves. The king bears the image of God, the tyrant that 
of the devil. 

And now, lest we should misunderstand this conception of 
law, we must remind ourselves that to these people law was 
not an arbitrary or irrational thing, representing the caprice 
of the ruler, or even of the people. We may consider it under 
two terms, each important and significant. 

In the first place we may say that the law did not normally 
present itself to the people of the Middle Ages as a thing that 
was made. Law was primarily custom, a part of the life and 
being of the community, but so far as men were conscious 
of it as being made and we can see the beginnings of this 
in the ninth century, and, after a chaotic interval in the 
tenth century, it revived in the twelfth and thirteenth the 
law was made not by any one person or assembly, but in 
some sense by the acceptance of the whole community. The 
idea of a single authoritative legislator was wholly alien to 
the temper of the Middle Ages. 

In the second place, we must bear in mind that the system 
of law was thought of as being the embodiment of justice, 
and as having no authority, no validity, except in so far as 
it had this character. It is true that there was an authority 
against this, that of St. Augustine in his unhappy attempt, 
in one part of the De Civitate Dei, to eliminate the concep- 
tion of justice from the theory of the State, but, fortunately, 
this exercised no influence on the political theory of the Middle 
Ages. Cicero's phrases, in which he sets out the principle 
that law is the expression of justice, were well known to them, 
partly at least through the fact that St. Augustine had quoted 
them in another chapter of the same work. It is this con- 
ception that was drawn out most completely by the great 
jurists of the revived study of the Roman law in the twelfth 
and thirteenth centuries. " Jus," or the whole system of 
law, is the manifestation and expression of iustitia. 



OF SOCIAL ORDER 128 

The same principle was also set out under another set of 
terms especially by the canonists, that is under the term of 
the relation of the law of any particular community to the 
" natural law." The " natural law," Gratian says, is superior 
to all other laws, it is primitive and unchangeable, it is the 
expression of the will of God Himself ; all laws or constitu- 
tions, whether ecclesiastical or secular, which are contrary 
to the " natural law " are null and void. 

This is not the place for a discussion of all that was implied 
in history by the conception of a natural law, as a principle of 
justice, antecedent in authority to all positive or civil law ; 
but we must take account of this, for it meant that while 
mediaeval people thought of law as the custom, or some- 
times as the determination of the community, they were clear 
that it had no authority, no validity at all unless it was the 
expression of something more than either custom or will. 

The history of the gradual development of the theory of 
an absolute authority, a " sovereignty " in society, has not 
yet been fully studied or written, and indeed, much serious 
work will have to be done, before this can be attempted. It 
is, however, possible to recognize something of what happened. 

The conception of the supremacy of law in the State was 
profound and just, but it is also true that it was not possible 
that it should continue under the older terms. It became 
evident that it was necessary to find a power behind the law, 
greater than the law, which could change the law. For some 
centuries men were content to modify or reinterpret custom, 
to adapt it to the changing conditions and requirements of 
life ; but in the end this proved insufficient, and they had to 
recognize the necessity of a legislative power. We can trace 
the beginnings both of the process and of the theory of 
legislation in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, but it was 
only very slowly that men became fully conscious of it, 
and for centuries the process concealed itself, especially in 
a country like England, behind the appeal to precedent. 



124 

In the end, however, the facts triumphed over tradition, 
and men came, however slowly, to think of the law not as 
itself supreme but as the expression of the will of a supreme 
power which lay behind it. This is the meaning of that 
distinction between the legislative and the judical authority 
which has on the whole established itself as normally useful. 

I am not here concerned with the various forms under which 
the conception has found expression. In some countries, 
indeed in most European countries after the fifteenth century, 
the supreme authority was thought to be embodied in an 
absolute king, in others, and especially in England, in an 
" omnicompetent " parliament. The difference is profound 
and immensely significant in history, for one represents the 
principle of what we justly call political slavery, the other 
at least the possibility of political freedom. But in spite 
of this immense difference, for our present purpose the 
distinction is not material. What we are here concerned with 
is the development of the notion, whether under one form or 
the other, that there is such a thing as an absolute sovereign 
power. 

It is this doctrine, set out with characteristic and paradoxical 
vehemence by Hobbes, which is probably the most dangerous, 
the most mischievous foolishness of political theory. For 
in Hobbes this is the expression of a complete disbelief in 
any moral principle in society, to him the terms just and 
unjust are merely the euphemistic forms under which men 
express the sum of what is useful or convenient. To him 
men seek in the State not justice but safety, there is only 
one " right of nature " (ius naturale) and that is self-preserva- 
tion, and that can only be secured under the protection of 
an absolute and unlimited power, which, for its own con- 
venience or advantage, will normally secure the individual 
man from the ferocious aggressions of his fellowmen. 

It is true that in this extreme form the conception of the 
existence of an absolute sovereignty has not been often 



OF SOCIAL ORDER 125 

professed, but it is also true that the theory of the safety or 
the convenience of society as something which is beyond 
right and wrong, beyond justice or injustice, has often found 
its expression under the terms of the theory of the absolute 
sovereignty of the State. 

It was natural enough that a similar theory should have 
found expression in the actual conditions of economic life in the 
eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, a theory that human 
relations in the economic sphere are to be determined not 
at all by the principles of justice, but by those of convenience. 
The natural consequence has been that the characteristic 
aspect of the economic relations of men in the industrial 
world is the dominance of force, or what is in other terms 
described as the " class war." No doubt respectable persons 
pretend that this is not their meaning or their intention, but 
unhappily for them, facts are what they are, and the social 
condition of Europe is a sufficient evidence of the reality. 

I am not here dealing with the economic aspect of society, 
but with its proper characteristic or quality under all its 
forms. And I conclude therefore by urging that it is imperi- 
ously necessary that we should recover from the superstition 
of absolute authority, and that we may well find it useful 
to return to and learn something from a time when men firmly 
believed that justice, and not force, was supreme. No 
doubt it is a mere absurdity to think that we can go back, 
or to imagine that the immense complexities of modern life 
can be solved by a mere appeal to great principles. The task of 
the modern world is to work out these principles into a system 
which may under our conditions, and with relation to the 
necessary movement of life, serve to embody them. 



THE OBSTACLE OF INDUSTRIALISM 

BY 

ARTHUR J. PENTY 

Author of Post -Industrialism, Old Worlds ftr New, etc. 



SYNOPSIS 

The disproportion that exists between the material and spiritual 
sides of modern life. The conflict between industrial and spiritual 
values. Luxury a disintegrating social influence. Leads to cata- 
strophe. Luxury and unemployment. The quantitative standard 
antipathetic to Christianity. Current fallacies in economics rest on 
the acceptance of a false philosophy of life. Self-expression through 
work a spiritual necessity. Machinery and sub-division of labour. 
Over-specialization the bane of the modern world. Intellectual 
specialization. Necessity of placing a limit to specialization. Crea- 
tive impulse incompatible with the sub-division of labour. Industrial 
system will break down of its own weight. The unemployed 
problem. The need of a changed conception of life. Guilds and 
the Just Price. The regulation of machinery. Should not be allowed 
to supplant craftsmanship. Dependence of design on handicraft. 
Art and industrialism. Opposition of quantitative and qualitative 
standards. Fallacy of expecting a spontaneous creation of art. How 
the change will come. On the teaching of taste. The Christian 
temper in art. Modernist and academic standards. Necessity of a 
religious basis for art. 



THE OBSTACLE OF INDUSTRIALISM 129 



CHAPTER VI 
THE OBSTACLE OF INDUSTRIALISM 

NOT the least of the obstacles that stand in the way of a 
return of Christendom is the monstrous disproportion that 
exists between the material and spiritual sides of life. For 
centuries, and especially since the Industrial Revolution, 
a larger and larger proportion of our energies have been 
devoted to the increase and development of our material 
resources, with the result that the balance between the 
material and spiritual sides of life which is indispensable 
to any healthy and normal civilization has been entirely 
destroyed, and the spiritual life almost crushed out of 
existence by the dead weight of material preoccupations. 

The fact that undue concentration on material things tends 
to choke the spiritual life was over and over again insisted 
upon by Jesus Christ. " Take ye no thought, saying, What 
shall we eat, or what shall we drink, or wherewithal shall 
we be clothed (for after all these things do the Gentiles 
seek) ? for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need 
of these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and 
His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto 
you." This is the true political economy ; it is the political 
economy of Christendom, and it is because in some measure 
the Medievalists pursued this ideal that they were not 
perplexed by the problem of riches and poverty as it perplexes 
us to-day. Industrialism is the organization of society on 
the opposite assumption, " Seek ye first," it says, " material 
prosperity, and all other things shall be added unto you." 

9 



But somehow or other it does not work out. These other 
things are not added, and in the long run the pursuit of riches 
does not even bring material prosperity. For the concentra- 
tion of all effort and mental energy upon material achievement 
upsets the spiritual equilibrium of society. It produces con- 
trasts of wealth and poverty, and out of these come envy, 
jealousy, class hatreds, economic and military warfare, 
and finally the destruction of the wealth that has been so 
laboriously created. For no society built on a lie can endure. 
Our industrial society exhibits a spirit that shows itself 
irreconcilably hostile to all the higher interests of mankind, 
and all men who care for spiritual things are conscious of 
this antagonism. Yet as a nation we lack the courage to 
face the fact that Industrialism is incompatible with the 
spiritual life. In the Middle Ages, when the material develop- 
ment of civilization was in its infancy, there were not 
wanting men to protest with all their might against the 
corrupting influence of wealth and luxury. St. Francis, in 
the thirteenth century even, sought to counter the evil by 
preaching the Gospel of Poverty, and at a later date sumptuary 
laws were enacted to put a boundary to the growth of personal 
extravagance, for many people saw the social dangers atten- 
dant upon an increase of luxury. In Germany, which in the 
Middle Ages was the most prosperous country in Europe, 
extravagance and luxury grew at an alarming pace towards 
the end of the fifteenth century. Many of the merchants 
had become richer than kings and emperors, and vanity 
had prompted them to give visible evidence of their great 
riches in the adoption of a higher and higher standard of 
living. Feasting and gambling increased, while extravagance 
in dress became the order of the day. Commenting on 
this, Wimpheling, who was one of the most widely read 
authors of the period, said that " wealth and prosperity are 
attended with great dangers, as we see exemplified : they 
induce extravagance in dress, in banqueting, and what is 



THE OBSTACLE OF INDUSTRIALISM 131 

still worse, they engender a desire for still more. This 
desire debases the mind of man and degenerates into con- 
tempt of God, His Church, and His Commandments." And 
experience was to prove it led to social catastrophe-. 

The peril arises from the fact that, as extravagance increases, 
a kind of social compulsion is brought to bear upon others 
to live up to it whether they can afford to do so or not, and 
as only the rich can afford to keep up with the standard thus 
set, a point is soon reached when the need of money is very 
widely felt. When that point was reached in Germany the 
same thing happened that has happened with us to-day. 
Nobody wanted to do any really productive work, but every- 
body wanted to go into trade where money was to be made. 
Mercantile houses, shops, and taverns multiplied inordinately, 
and complaints were made that there was no money but only 
debts, and that whole districts were drained by usury. The 
growth of this state of things was followed by the attempt 
which each class made to save itself from bankruptcy by 
transferring its burdens on to the shoulders of the class beneath 
it, which led to the progressive impoverishment of the working 
class, who had to bear the brunt because the burden could be 
shifted no farther. Then there arose a bitter enmity between 
the propertied and the unpropertied classes, and class hatred 
increased in intensity until finally it led in 1524 to the Peasants' 
War, which convulsed almost every corner of the Empire 
from the Alps to the Baltic. 

We see then that in attacking extravagance and luxury 
the Church has been led by a true social instinct. But it 
becomes daily more evident that to attack extravagance and 
luxury is not enough. It is necessary to attack those general 
principles and assumptions of our social and industrial 
system which of their own nature tend to promote such vices. 
This fact has of late received some recognition by the Church. 
The Report of the Archbishop's Committee on " Christianity 
and Industrial Problems " marks an advance in thought to 



182 THE OBSTACLE OF INDUSTRIALISM 

the extent that it has broken away from that purely personal 
explanation of social phenomena which satisfied most Church- 
men until yesterday, and has recognized that " charity " 
with the Church has not been interpreted (as it should be) 
as " a sort of glorified justice " that " looks at least as much 
to the prevention of evil as to its cure. On the contrary, 
it has meant far too exclusively what may be called ambulance 
work for mankind the picking up of the wounded and the 
curing of their wounds." " We have," says the Report, 
" neglected to attack the forces of wrong. We have been 
content with the ambulance work when we ought to have 
been assaulting the strongholds of evil." 

In laying down the broad principles which should govern 
the conduct of Christians in their relation to social questions 
nothing could be more admirable than this Report. But as 
it proceeds, the clear vision that marks the early part of the 
Report gets bedimmed and the writers get entangled in the 
economic defences of the existing system. Their protests 
are silenced by those pleas of economic necessity behind 
which the upholders of the existing order take cover. Thus 
while on the one hand luxury is attacked, on the other the 
Report hesitates to carry its attack to its logical conclusion 
by condemning root and branch those quantitative concep- 
tions upon which our industrial system is based. For it 
is undoubtedly true that the progressive growth of luxury 
is a necessary condition of the continued existence of a system 
that is based upon conceptions of indefinite industrial expan- 
sion. It is not too much to say that people nowadays are 
goaded by advertisers into becoming luxurious. Indeed, 
unless a man is poor, his difficulty nowadays is how to avoid 
becoming luxurious, for circumstances combine to force the 
individual along the path of luxury whether he likes it or 
not, and people succumb to luxurious tendencies because 
they are afraid to appear mean. It may be admitted that 
expenditure need not be luxurious though it pass the bounds 



THE OBSTACLE OF INDUSTRIALISM 133 

of necessity. Expenditure on the arts, for instance, is of 
this nature. But this is not the kind of expenditure that is 
encouraged by latter-day conceptions of industrial expansion. 
On the contrary, what is encouraged is every sort of vain 
and useless expenditure on all kinds of things that people 
would be better without ; while the dilemma in which we 
are placed is that such useless expenditure is necessary to 
keep the wheels of industry running. There is plenty of 
unemployment to-day, yet under our existing system if the 
rich could be induced to abandon luxury unemployment 
would be actually increased. Hence it is that until we have 
the courage to attack the principles upon which the industrial 
system is built there can be no escape from this fundamental 
dilemma. 

This kind of inconsistency must come to an end. We 
must frankly recognize that the purely quantitative standard 
is antipathetic to everything that Christianity stands for, 
for not until we do shall we be able to translate our ideals 
into the terms of actuality. We must oppose the conception 
of " maximum production " with that of a " sufficient produc- 
tion." Quantity up to a certain point of course we must 
have, but we must break with the theory that exalts a standard 
of quantity as the final test of industrial righteousness, since 
so long as we accept such a standard, the time will never come 
when we can say we have produced enough. Appearances 
will always be against a return to sanity, because when 
production proceeds beyond a certain point it upsets distri- 
bution ; and by upsetting distribution, competition is increased 
and unemployment and poverty is created. The widespread 
existence of such poverty in turn lends a colour to the demand 
for still more production, and so we go on from bad to worse, 
driven from one desperate expedient to another in a vain 
effort to escape from the consequences of exalting the quantita- 
tive standard. The remedy is for us to refuse any longer 
to sacrifice Christian principles to economic expediency. 



134 THE OBSTACLE OF INDUSTRIALISM 

We can be perfectly assured that what is wrong morally 
is bad economics ; and that professors of economics who 
maintain the contrary suffer from a constitutional inability 
to distinguish between appearance and reality. 

When we search for an explanation of current fallacies 
of economics we find that they rest finally on a false philosophy 
of life on the belief that work at the best is a disagreeable 
necessity that it is desirable to reduce to a minimum. In 
former times it was the normal thing for men to find pleasure 
and satisfaction in their work. But this is no longer the 
case. The vast majority of people to-day do not look for 
any such pleasure or satisfaction. They work in order to 
get money to live. Their hearts are not in their work, their 
real interests are outside, either in the pursuit of pleasure, 
or in some hobby or occupation extraneous to their daily 
work. Not only do they do as little as they can, but what 
they do is done in a venal and slovenly way. The grudging 
and resentful temper engendered by their daily work infects 
the whole of life. Character deterioriates : men become 
restless and dissatisfied. It would matter little if the hours 
of work were reduced to four or even two hours a day. They 
would still be restless and dissatisfied. For they would still 
be in a fundamentally wrong relation to life, and that fact 
would vitiate the extra leisure they had gained. Men are 
not men until they have found their true vocation and 
ministry. When Carlyle said, " Blessed is the man who has 
found his work : let him ask no other blessedness," he was 
expressing one of the primary truths of Christian ethics. 

All Christians must deplore this demoralization that has 
overtaken the modern world, and many Christian moralists, 
recognizing the evil, have attempted to combat it. But 
they have all failed. They have failed to establish points 
of contact with the modern mind, and this for the simple 
reason that they have chosen to ignore the vital facts of the 
situation. With men to-day as in the past it would be the 



THE OBSTACLE OF INDUSTRIALISM 135 

normal and natural thing for them to find pleasure in their 
work were it not that they are prevented from doing so by 
circumstances. Their work fails to inspire them for two 
reasons. Firstly because as it is done at the dictation and 
in the interests of profiteers, they cannot feel the call of 
service ; and secondly, because under our industrial system 
work has become so monotonous that everyone is bored by it. 

Recognizing these facts, any analysis of the problem of 
work and industry that would grapple with the realities of 
the situation must reassert the claims of the producer. It 
may be true that the needs of the consumer are the primary 
basis of any economic system. Yet the producer has equal 
claims for consideration, since an analysis based entirely 
upon the needs of the consumer will, if carried to its logical 
conclusion, lead inevitably to the enslavement and degrada- 
tion of the producer, for instead of being regarded as a human 
being he will come to be regarded merely as an instrument 
for the increase of wealth. To such an extent has develop- 
ment proceeded in this direction that the only way to restore 
a condition of normality in industry is to assert the claims 
of the producer, affirming self-expression through work to 
be a spiritual necessity. The moment we assert this we come 
into collision with Industrialism as a machine producing 
wealth, no matter how equitably its products could under 
some future system be distributed, because it denies all 
opportunities whatsoever for self-expression. 

Industrialism destroys interest in work because it tends 
towards an ever increasing specialization. This is the key 
to the problem. We are accustomed to associate the evil 
with the spread of machine production, but strictly speaking 
the evil does not reside in machinery, but in the subdivision 
of labour which preceded the introduction of machinery and 
which is responsible for its misapplication. And here it 
is necessary to distinguish between the division of labour 
which is legitimate and the subdivision of labour which is 



186 THE OBSTACLE OF INDUSTRIALISM 

illegitimate. The former is a necessity in every civilized 
community, for it is obvious that a man cannot supply all 
his own needs, since to some extent he is inevitably dependent 
upon others. No sooner did civilization begin to develop 
than this necessity brought about the specialization of men 
into different trades. One man oecame a weaver, another 
a carpenter, and so forth. Up to this point the division of 
labour is justified, not merely because it is a necessity of 
civilization, but because it enlarges the opportunities of 
expression of the individual. What, however, we under- 
stand by the subdivision of labour is measures taken to 
increase the output in the interests of profiteering by splitting 
up a trade into a great number of separate processes. This 
we must condemn, because by reducing men to automatons 
it undermines their moral and spiritual life and disintegrates 
personality, while it leads inevitably to sweating and economic 
insecurity. This system came into existence in the early 
part of the seventeenth century, the classical example being 
that eulogized by Adam Smith in The Wealth of Nations, 
namely pin-making, in which industry, he explained, it 
takes twenty men to make a pin, each man being specialized 
on a single process for a lifetime. In our day this method 
has reached its logical conclusion in the system known 
as " scientific management." The subdivision of labour 
attacks the craft ; scientific management attacks the man. 
Its acknowledged object is further to increase output by the 
elimination of all the motions of the arms and fingers and 
body that do not directly contribute to the fashioning of 
the article under process of manufacture. As such it com- 
pletes the dehumanization and despiritualization of labour 
begun by the subdivision of labour. 

Now it is apparent that the value to be placed upon such 
a method of work will depend upon our philosophy of life. 
If we are materialists and are convinced that the great end 
of life is to increase wealth profit and commodities 



THE OBSTACLE OF INDUSTRIALISM 137 

regardless of the use to which the commodities are put or the 
degradation of the workers through the methods employed 
in their production, then we shall regard even such a system 
as scientific management as evidence of progress. But if 
we believe as Christians in the aboriginal and imperish- 
able worth of the individual, we shall condemn the system 
as essentially anti-Christian. We shall maintain that any 
increase of wealth obtained by such means carries with it 
a curse, inasmuch as it ignores the sacredness of human 
personality and degrades man to the level of a machine. 

The principle of the subdivision of labour has penetrated 
into every department of human activity. Over-specialization 
is the bane of the modern world. It affects the intellectual 
world, not perhaps to the same degree, but with results that 
are as potent for evil as those which we deplore in the world 
of labour. For just as the machine-tender becomes atrophied 
in certain directions, so the intellectual specialist develops 
one side of his mind at the expense of other sides, and thereby 
loses that balance and judgment which are essential to work 
of permanent value. It is said that in Germany before the 
War specialization among intellectual workers had reached 
such a degree of development that men tended to become 
monomaniacs on one subject, or even one small part of a 
subject, to the detriment of general culture. This was 
the Kultur that gave to the Germans their sense of superiority 
over other peoples and was a contributory cause of the War. 
Specialization up to a certain point we must have if civiliza- 
tion is to exist at all. But a limit must be placed somewhere 
if men are not to disintegrate morally, intellectually, and 
spiritually, and to imperil the stability of civilization. 
An intimate connection exists between the convulsions which 
have overtaken society and this over-specialization ; since 
when specialization is complete it breaks up society, be- 
cause the co-ordinating idea which binds men together 
no longer operates. It is the corollary of that isolation of 



138 THE OBSTACLE OF INDUSTRIALISM 

the soul which Mr. Belloc rightly sees as the fruit of the 
Reformation. 

I said that to the development of specialization a limit 
must be placed somewhere. That limit, I submit, should 
be placed at the point craft development had reached before 
the division of labour degenerated into the subdivision of 
labour. To suffer specialization to proceed farther is, to use 
an engineering term " to trespass on the margin of safety." 
In calculating the strengths of the material he uses, the 
engineer keeps well within the margin of safety, for he knows 
that all structures suffer from wear and tear and may at 
some time or other be subjected to an exceptional strain, 
and therefore in common prudence he makes allowances for 
such contingencies in his calculations, distinguishing clearly 
between a "safe load" and a "breaking load." A sane 
sociology would make a corresponding destruction. It 
would recognize that there was a limit beyond which 
productivity could not be increased without imperilling the 
stability of the social structure. It would condemn the 
subdivision of labour because it trespassed on the margin 
of psychological safety and indefinite industrial expansion 
because it trespassed on the margin of economic safety. 
Failure to recognize the truth of this principle is responsible 
for the disintegration of society to-day. Though it is only 
since the War that our peril has received any public recogni- 
tion, the process of disintegration has nevertheless been at 
work since the seventeenth century, when the subdivision of 
labour was instituted. If, then, society is to be reconstructed 
on a stable basis, productivity must not be allowed to trespass 
on the margin of safety ; in other words, we must repudiate 
the subdivision of labour and return to the handicrafts as the 
basis of production, using machinery only in an accessory way. 

It is now some seventy years since Ruskin wrote his im- 
passioned protests against the human degradation involved 
in the subdivision of labour. Yet it is only of late that 



THE OBSTACLE OF INDUSTRIALISM 139 

any signs have been forthcoming that his protests have not 
been entirely in vain. Thus in the Report of the American 
Committee on " The Church and Industrial Reconstruction " 
we read : " The tendency to regard labour simply as a means 
of production has been greatly intensified by modern 
machinery which has often had the effect of reducing the 
man almost to the level of a machine. He is left to do what 
inventive genius is unable to design a machine to do. The 
process of manufacture is carried to a higher and higher 
degree of specialization, until the worker's task tends to 
become a deadening routine and he himself hardly more 
than a semi-mechanical part of the factory. These conditions 
almost inevitably result in the loss of the sense of personal 
creation and fine craftsmanship. In the simpler days before 
the advent of large-scale production the worker helped to 
plan the work and with his own strength and skill to carry 
it into execution. In such a task a man could really find 
self-expression. But now he does not plan the work or any 
part of it, and everything except the monotonous details 
is accomplished by an automatic machine. The work no 
longer seems really his. The factory, therefore, means barren 
monotony for millions of men, deadens their imagination, 
and robs them of any sense of creative joy, and in these 
results we have had an altogether too complacent acquiescence. 
If we are seriously concerned about the development of 
personality we ought to be earnestly seeking ways of affording 
to modern workers opportunity for self-expression in their 
tasks by giving them industrial education and making it 
possible for them to share in directing the industry as a whole. 
At the very least we ought to guarantee them sufficient 
leisure for self-development in other activities outside the 
factory. We have shown an inexcusable apathy towards 
this destruction of human values in the process of producing 
things. We have been concerned with impersonal goods, with 
profits and dividends, forgetting that the factor we indifferently 



140 THE OBSTACLE OF INDUSTRIALISM 

spoke of as ' labour ' is nothing less than immortal souls for 
whom the Lord Christ died." l 

Well, it is something to get an acknowledgment of the 
problem, but the measures proposed in the report will not, 
I fear, get us anywhere, for the real issues are not faced. 
The writers of the Report see our industrial system as an 
established fact, and they are cowed and overawed by it 
much in the same way that dwellers in tropical latitudes are 
said to be cowed and overawed by the stupendous nature they 
see around them. And so instead of facing the issue, instead 
of frankly recognizing the fact that a system of industry that 
is built upon the degradation of the workers must be abolished, 
they seek to evade the dilemma in the typical modern fashion 
by recommending palliatives which experience should already 
have taught us effect nothing. 

If one may take the Selected Bibliography attache! to 
this volume as indicating the lines on which its authors 
think industrial reform should proceed, the idea apparently 
is to salute Henry Ford as a prophet ; and to seek an escape 
from the evil of over-specialization, not by its abolition, but 
by constantly changing the workers round, so that instead 
of condemning them for a lifetime to the performance 
of a single task they would move from one specialism to 
another, and to supplement such experience by a scheme of 
technical education which will enable them to see the thing 
as a whole. By such means we are told the creative impulse 
will be restored to industry, and all will be well. The idea is 
meeting with much support as may well be imagined, for 
all ideas which do not demand of us real sacrifices are popular 
until their inadequacy is found out. 

Still it won't do. The creative impulse in man will not 
be liberated by such means any more than a man would be 
liberated from prison because he enjoyed the privilege of 
being moved from cell to cell. And for this reason, that the 

' Pp. 38-39. 



THE OBSTACLE OF INDUSTRIALISM 141 

element of choice as to how anything should be done would 
be entirely missing, and liberty of choice is an indispensable 
accompaniment of the exercise of the creative impulse. Hence 
we see that any such compromise does not really change the 
problem, and that the liberation of the creative impulse 
is incompatible with the existence of the subdivision of 
labour. 

The difficulty of securing acceptance for a truth that is 
self-evident to men with experience is due to the fact that 
so few writers have any industrial experience to build upon. 
As the effects of the system spread and begin to alter their 
own lives they become in an indirect way conscious of the 
fact that the industrial system suppresses creative instincts 
within themselves and so they rebel. But what is the nature 
of such instincts and what is the kind of industrial conditions 
favourable to their expression they have no notion whatsoever, 
and being therefore without any positive experience they 
hesitate to challenge such an established fact as the industrial 
system. The tragedy of the situation, however, is that while 
owing to lack of experience they do not know the truth 
themselves, they are unwilling to accept the opinion of 
craftsmen and artists who having had experience have 
some right to be heard. Meanwhile the industrial system 
proceeds according to the laws of its own being regardless 
of consequences. The few skilled men necessary to its 
continuance are rapidly disappearing, and as the system 
trains no successors it is clear that the day is not far distant 
when there will be no competence left to run it. It will not 
be long before the system breaks down of its own weight. 

So much may be seen clearly as the logical consequence 
of the persistent refusal of the modern world to listen to the 
advice of anyone who has had real experience of the problem. 
If we are to learn at all it would seem it can only be through 
suffering. Our statesmen and publicists have for centuries 
refused to look facts in the face. They have lived on the 



142 THE OBSTACLE OF INDUSTRIALISM 

principle of putting off the evil day, and now it can be put 
off no longer. The unemployed are in our streets, and I 
venture to say they will remain there until the facts are faced. 
Our markets are contracting and will remain contracted, 
for during the War many of our former customers have taken 
to manufacturing all kinds of things for themselves because 
we could not supply their needs, and they will continue to do 
so. Meanwhile automatic machinery is being introduced into 
industry after industry and the workers are beginning to realize 
that there is such a thing as a problem of machinery. The 
men who are unemployed are beginning to talk about it. They 
see that if with contracted markets more machinery is to be 
used there is no chance of them ever getting back to work. 
The newspapers have not laid bare this aspect of the subject 
yet, and it is to be presumed that the facts will not be faced 
until the last quack remedy has been tried. 

My belief that the present industrial system will be trans- 
formed is not then based upon any expectation that the 
majority of men will so long as they can avoid doing so demand 
change, but on the conviction that as the present system is 
becoming rapidly unworkable we must change or perish. 
Meanwhile, if a nucleus of clear thinking could be created, 
when the crisis does arrive there would be something around 
which thought and activity could crystallize, and in this 
connection it is to be observed that nothing is any use at all 
that does not go down to fundamentals. The present system 
with all its evils rests finally on a certain conception of life, 
on the idea that a life of leisure and luxury is the thing to 
be aimed at. It is the general prevalence of this ideal that 
is responsible for the race for wealth and the misapplication 
of machinery, which naturally flows from it. When we 
realize these things, we realize that any reform to be effective 
demands as its accompaniment a changed ideal of life. It 
means that the ideal of leisure be supplanted by one of work 
and service on a basis of function. The implications of such 



a changed ideal of life are simply enormous. It would mean 
in the first place that occupations would not be esteemed 
in proportion as they win money, afford comfort and leisure, 
and confer individual power and distinction, but in proportion 
as they afford the individual the opportunity of doing work 
that is useful and desirable for the purposes of human life. 
It would mean that instead of trade and commerce being 
exalted at the expense of agriculture and the productive 
arts, agriculture and craftsmanship would come to be exalted 
in the future as in the past as the foundation of national 
prosperity and well-being, and measures would be taken to 
protect all such workers against their position being under- 
mined by speculators in finance by the maintenance of a 
Just and Fixed Price under a system of Guilds covering the 
whole of society. 

In addition it would be necessary to regulate machinery, 
in the first place, because there can be no economic security 
for the worker so long as his means of livelihood is at the 
mercy of a new invention ; and in the next, because it is an 
essential condition of any decent and stable social order that 
machinery be brought into subjection by the abolition of 
all machinery that involves the subdivision of labour, and 
this necessitates regulation. Moralists who affirm that no 
such regulation is required, inasmuch as machinery is non- 
moral and therefore its application will be good or bad accord- 
ing to the motive that inspires its use, should, to be consistent, 
deny the necessity of laws and regulations in every other 
department of activity, since the case for regulating 
machinery rests finally on precisely the same grounds as any 
other kind of regulation : First, to restrain those whose 
motives are bad from injuring society by their actions, and, 
secondly, to prevent those who with the best of motives do 
things through ignorance which in their ultimate effects are 
harmful. 

If these principles were observed, the amount of machinery 



144 THE OBSTACLE OF INDUSTRIALISM 

used in the future would be negligible in comparison with 
what is used to-day, and it would so obviously be performing 
the function which it professes to perform that no case could 
be made out against its use. This would mean that machinery 
would not be allowed to trespass on the domain of the crafts, 
but its use would be confined to doing the " donkey work " 
which lies at the base of production. The point at which 
its use would be forbidden would be where a man has to 
think more about the machinery than the work he is doing, 
and where those directing industry have to think more about 
how they are to keep their plant running than of the service 
which their activities render to the community. The applica- 
tion of this principle, however, involves other things. It 
presupposes that simultaneously efforts are made to restore 
the Guilds, and to re-establish communal traditions of art and 
craftsmanship, since apart from the positive values that such 
traditions would give the problem of exactly where to draw 
the line could not be easily determined. 

At this point we find ourselves drawn into the controversies 
that surround the revival of the arts. Twenty years ago 
all who were interested in the subject would have agreed that 
the re-establishment of any such traditions was dependent 
upon a revival of handicraft. Following Ruskin and Morris, 
they would have affirmed that there is no such thing as art 
apart from handicraft, inasmuch as any new ideas in design 
arise from experimental handicraft, just, I might add, in 
the same way that new ideas in science are discovered by 
similarly experimenting with material. But of late years, 
owing to the failure of the Arts and Craft Movement to solve 
the economic problems in which it found itself involved, 
attempts have been made to adjust art to the requirements 
of machine industry. All such compromisers would I believe 
admit that at the best such machine art was on a distinctly 
lower plane than that of handicraft. But seeing no option 
in the matter, the Design and Industries Association was 



THE OBSTACLE OF INDUSTRIALISM 145 

organized to make the best of a bad job by bringing art 
into relation to modern industry. It is interesting to note 
that their experience has been equally disappointing. Like 
the Arts and Crafts, they have here and there been able to 
make a little headway. They have been able to get a few 
utilitarian things of better design on the market, but there 
is no denying that they have failed as miserably as the Arts 
and Crafts Movement to reform industrialism, which as a 
whole exhibits a spirit entirely antagonistic to any change 
in an artistic direction, and this is no wonder, for the demands 
of art and industrialism are mutually exclusive. Thus the 
most fundamental requirement of the growth of any new 
tradition of art is continuity of effort in a certain given 
direction. A tradition is a growth, and it becomes full and 
rich in its capacities of expression through work along certain 
continuous lines. But industrialism denies this condition. 
Its interest in output forbids it to work with continuity. 
On the contrary it seeks to create new demand by constantly 
changing the fashion. Change of fashion, it will be seen, 
means that every year the basis is changed, and therefore 
there is no continuity and therefore no growth. In the 
same way a hundred other interests militate against a 
growth of tradition. Such experiences drive us inevitably 
to the conclusion that a quantitative standard and a 
qualitative standard are opposed and that finally no com- 
promise is possible between them. 

Yet people are unwilling to admit this, for to admit it 
seems to most people a gospel of sheer despair. Hence it 
has happened, partly as a result of these failures, and partly 
as a misunderstanding as to the democratic nature of art, 
that of late years the theory has been advanced that the 
revival of art is not to come from professional artists and 
craftsmen that is from the people who think about it, but 
from the masses who don't whose creative impulse will 
find spontaneous expression when they are liberated from 

10 



146 THE OBSTACLE OF INDUSTRIALISM 

economic servitude. Needless to say, no one holds this 
theory who has any capacity for aesthetic production himself. 
Nevertheless it is widely held by people who are interested 
but without experience, and as these people, if they only 
knew, it, really hold the key to the situation, it is important 
that it be controverted. 

Let us suppose then that the people were liberated from 
economic servitude. What kind of work would they produce ? 
Well, I think we may take it for granted that they would 
not produce shoddy and scamped work ; but I think I am 
safe in saying that if left to themselves they would (so far 
as the aesthetic side of their work is concerned) continue 
to produce very much the same kind of thing they make to-day, 
and this for the simple reason that to produce anything 
different they would need to be born again aesthetically and 
spiritually. Economic emancipation would not of itself do 
this for them. 

Whatever illusions we may harbour as to the possibility 
of a spontaneous democratic creation of art are speedily 
dissipated when we talk to the average man ; we have not 
to talk to him long to discover that he recognizes no ultimate 
standards of thought or taste. One man likes this, and 
another likes that, and that is the end of it, for there is no 
accounting for tastes. The idea that he cannot get hold of 
is that there is a right and wrong in questions of taste as in 
other matters, and because he cannot get hold of it he must 
remain where he is or follow the lead of others, for he is 
incapable of leadership himself. And if the individual does 
not thus possess within himself the perception that would 
emancipate him, we can be sure the masses will not, for in 
their collective capacity the tyranny of majorities tends 
inevitably to maintain the status quo. Thus we are led to 
see that any revival of art does not depend upon mass action, 
but upon individuals whose aesthetic perceptions are such 
as to enable them to lead the way that is by the gradual 



THE OBSTACLE OF INDUSTRIALISM 147 

enlargement of the circle of people who nowadays have some 
idea of what they are about. As this circle widens, art 
becomes democratic because it becomes generalized and 
provides a medium of expression in which all may share. 
Thus we see that in affirming that art shall be democratic 
we do not mean that we look forward to a time when a new 
form of aesthetic expression will arise spontaneously out of 
the whims and fancies of undisciplined tastes, but that the 
nature of the art we seek to promote shall be such as to 
be capable of popular understanding and incorporation. In 
a word, it is a conception of aesthetic activity that proceeds to 
the people seeking their regeneration, not a gospel of despair 
demanding that the uneducated shall save the educated. 

Evidence is not wanting that the change is coming in this 
way. We speak of the failure of the Arts and Crafts Move- 
ment and in the sense that those actively engaged in it have 
not done what they hoped to do, it is true. Yet it has not 
entirely failed. The improvement that has taken place 
in the democratic arts of house furnishing and ladies' dress 
during the last twenty or thirty years, for example, amounts 
to a revolution. Yet, I venture to say, it is largely the con- 
sequence of the work of Morris and the Arts and Crafts Move- 
ment. This movement goes on underground, unobserved 
by art critics. True it has a long way to go yet. Still it 
has got a good start. Twenty years ago it was rare to find 
the house of an educated person furnished with any taste. 
Nowadays it is just as rare to go into one that does not exhibit 
some. From them it will percolate down until all are affected, 
once the economic barriers are removed. 

There is no greater illusion in this world than to imagine 
that taste cannot be taught. Of course it is impossible to 
teach it to anyone who has not something within himself 
that will respond to the suggestions of the teacher, but granted 
that something is there (and in a greater or lesser degree most 
people have some inherent aesthetic sensibility), then taste 



148 THE OBSTACLE OF INDUSTRIALISM 

can certainly be taught. It will develop in all such people 
if they are in personal contact with others in whom it is 
developed. I remember how this was brought home to me 
some twenty-five years ago. I used to imagine that I had 
no taste in colour, till one day I went round the National 
Gallery with a painter who gave me his opinion as to the 
merits of pictures there. He told me that this was good 
colour and that was bad ; at the time I could not understand 
the reasons that led him to bestow his praise and blame. 
I listened to what he had to say and said little myself, and 
some time later it gradually dawned upon me what he meant. 
Afterwards a time came when I could discriminate with as 
much confidence as he did. 

This brings me to what is a very crucial issue. The great 
difficulty connected with the teaching of taste is that most 
people resent criticism. They resent the dogmatism of the 
artist as something which if admitted would crush them. 
But this is an illusion, for if they only knew it, submission 
to such dogmatism would liberate them. To learn in art, as 
in other things, depends upon a certain humility of temper 
which allows a man to subordinate himself to anyone whom 
he feels knows more about anything than himself. If he 
will do this, a time comes when he will grow out of his pupilage 
and begin to feel his own feet. But too few will be content 
to act so, their pride seems to stand in the way. They want 
to run before they can walk. Yet everything depends upon 
the cultivation of such a temper. Pride is as great an enemy 
of art as of life. 

Such considerations enforce the conclusion that while a 
solution of the economic problem is an indispensable con- 
dition of the triumph of art in the world, yet its revival is 
not ultimately dependent upon a solution of such difficulties, 
but upon the cultivation of a certain temper or attitude of 
mind a temper and attitude which may be described as 
Christian. It goes with a certain respect for mastership and 



a capacity for subordinating oneself to a master, while it is 
frustrated by the prevailing temper of self-assertion, both 
among artists whose pride leads them to desire to be thought 
original, and with the man-in-the-street who " knows what 
he likes " and has no desire to learn. The truth is that all 
great masters have been willing learners, while their dogma- 
tism does not arise from egotism and pride, but from the self- 
confidence that follows patient study the knowledge that 
they understand certain things and their desire for others 
to share in their knowledge. The great artist always begins 
by subordinating himself to the needs of a communal tradi- 
tion and ends by transcending it. The minor artist will not 
submit himself to such a discipline. He suffers from an 
anxiety to preserve his own individuality and therefore 
fails to achieve distinction in anything. He that would 
save his life must lose it, is a truth for the artist as much 
as for the saint. 

I said that a great artist subordinates himself to the needs 
of a great tradition, as such his spirit is democratic, for 
the true democratic spirit does not seek to give the public 
merely what it wants, but seeks rather to subordinate itself 
to what the public needs two very different things. In 
the world of to-day, however, there is no established communal 
tradition of art. To what then does he subordinate himself ? 
To the communal traditions of the past. Not in any dead 
antiquarian sense, but as a source of living inspiration ; 
for to those living in an age in which there is no established 
tradition of art, the past is the ultimate source of inspiration. 
Even the modernist schools in their rebellion against academic 
standards do not really rebel against the past, but against 
a particular interpretation or valuation of the past, for their 
difference from the academic school is only that in their 
search for a source of inspiration they go much farther back. 
The academists held up the later phase of Greek arid Gothic 
art as models to be followed, the modernists on the contrary 



150 THE OBSTACLE OF INDUSTRIALISM 

take the more primitive forms of Greek and Gothic art as a 
source of inspiration. At any rate the best of them do. 
Those who seek to cut themselves off from the past altogether 
merely become eccentric. 

Meanwhile the whole trend of social and economic develop- 
ment is to thrust art entirely out of society. What little 
art we have with us to-day is bound up with the old social 
order that is fast disappearing whether it will disappear 
completely remains to be seen. But there is no doubt 
whatsoever that it is being crushed out of existence between 
the upper and nether millstones of plutocracy and industrialism, 
for experience proves art is incompatible with both and all 
efforts to graft art on modern civilization can only fail in the 
end. Hence the conviction grows that the only hope for art in 
the world is to get back to its old basis in religion, from which 
all the great traditions of art in the past have derived. It 
may well be that if our aspirations were fulfilled and a new 
Christendom should return, that art would recover its place 
in society in fuller measure and more complete perfection. 



THE MORALIZATION OF PROPERTY 

BY 

MAURICE B. RECKITT, M.A 



152 THE MORALIZATION OF PROPERTY 

SYNOPSIS 

I 

The Christian claim necessarily involves not only the salvation 
of the individual, but the resurrection of society. The failure of 
Christians themselves to realize this has largely accounted for the 
ineffectiveness of their witness. For the Faith thus never appears 
to the world in the light of a unique clue to its problems. 

Yet the world is waiting precisely for such a clue, and to a large 
extent consciously so. It realizes its need of social salvation, but 
many of its best spirits have despaired of the most fundamental 
institutions of society in view of the seemingly fatal corruptions 
which have overtaken them. Especially have they despaired of the 
institution of property. 

That institution is still defended by arguments totally inapplicable 
to it as at present distorted by plutocracy. But plutocracy cares 
nothing for property, save as a means to the establishment of mono- 
poly, for it is at monopoly essentially which plutocracy aims. Tnere 
is a case for property, however, which the exposure of its abuses 
to-day can only strengthen. 

II 

The ideal of Christendom is in no way Utopian, but one of imme- 
diate and practical significance. It offers in particular a clue to the 
problem of Property by the achievement of harmony between personal 
freedom and social function. 

While a clue, however, cannot in itself resolve all difficulties, it 
gives us ground for confidence in facing them. We may gain assur- 
ance in this instance that property-holding offers opportunities which 
are a necessary part of the vocation of the average Christian, while 
the obligations of fraternity must determine the conditions in which 
they are exercised. 

Property has been distorted by private monopoly owing to the 
idea that liberty being a purely individual right, property rights were 
consequently absolute, neither being related to any social purpose. 
A reaction from these errors leads many to propose replacing private 
monopolies by public ones a development equally perilous to social 
freedom. 

But it is certain that no solution can be found in the evolution 
of plutocracy. For this develops property rights only as a means 
to power, and leads to the domination of society by the power of 
money, an influence totally incompatible with brotherhood. This 



THE MORALIZATION OF PROPERTY 153 

influence breeds recklessness both in the wealthy and in the destitute, 
while it creates in the middle class only a spiritless timidity. 



Ill 

The socialist doctrine has a superficial cogency. But it raises 
immediately many wide questions relating to property-holding on 
which Socialists themselves in nowise agree. Two main schools of 
thought, however, may be discerned. 

(a) Communism is a term to which recent events have given an 
increased practical significance. The Russian experiment has involved 
the most complete attempt to extinguish property-rights ever made. 
But the attempt has failed because it made provision for no alter- 
native inducements to replace those which it suppressed. Its result 
was but to concentrate all the tyrannies of irresponsible private 
property in a single body. 

(b) Collectivism, though its adherents are critical of Communist 
methods, embodies a programme not greatly different in aim. It 
professes only to challenge property in so far as it forms part of 
" the means of production, distribution, and exchange." But this 
is a very wide definition. Before we can accept it, we have to inquire 
whether its application may not involve for the masses the continued 
deprivation of powers and opportunities which are necessary to a 
full citizenship. 

The essence of ownership does not lie in any of the abuses to which 
it is subject, but in the assurance of security, the sense of responsi- 
bility, and the opportunity of choice. Without a guaranteed econ- 
omic resource independent of State interference for every citizen, 
public monopoly leaves the individual at the mercy of the political 
authorities. 

IV 

The moralization of property involves more than recognition of 
their obligations on the part of the holders of existing property 
rights ; it involves a new outlook upon the sanctions by which such 
rights exist. This is called for, not only in principle but for practical 
reasons, since within the existing system a new status for the worker 
and a new orientation of industry are impossible. 

Nor can Christians find a justification for the possession and 
administration of great riches by taking refuge in a doctrine of 
" stewardship," a doctrine which contains not only spiritual falsehood 
but an economic fallacy. 

Such an outlook upon property, moreover, finds no sanction in 
the Gospels. Christ, in coming " to fulfil the Law and the Prophets," 
endorsed both the most determined attempt to achieve the moraliza- 
tion of property ever made by an organized community and the 



154 THE MORALIZATION OF PROPERTY 

protests made by the prophets against failures to preserve it. Further, 
in His central doctrine of the Kingdom of God He indicated that only 
in a community of fellowship and justice can material problems be 
solved. 

At two epochs in history has the attitude of the Church to 
property been of crucial importance in the fourth century and in 
the later Middle Ages. The first of these two supreme opportunities 
was largely thrown away, and a lack of moral initiative on the part 
of the Church left " the social order unadjusted to the full spirit of 
the Gospel." 



Despite the first great failure of the Church, from which it has 
never wholly recovered, the mediaeval Church did make a noble 
effort to develop a body of teaching which should cover every aspect 
of man's social life. It involved a theory of property which found 
its most characteristic exposition in the teaching of Aquinas, who 
refused to recognize any private right in property, and defended 
private property-holding on grounds essentially social. Moreover, 
his defence had relevance only to a social order in which a share in 
property was a universal experience, as was generally the case in the 
Middle Ages. 

Mediaeval economic teaching was employed as an aid to the main- 
tenance of human solidarity, not as a dis-solvent of it. A universal 
social athic was possible because of the acceptance of a common 
Faith. Personal responsibility was enforced not as a merely individual 
obligation, but in relation to a comprehensive social ideal. 

It is only with reference to this ideal that the practical exemplifica- 
tions of mediaevalism can be understood. These, indeed, display 
very different ideas as to property rights from those now prevalent. 
The guild system, for instance, only allowed of property within the 
governing principles of Vocation and Fraternity, as is shown by the 
institution of the Just Price and the circumstances of the worker's 
employment. In the countryside the status of the peasant was not 
a proletarian one, but rather that of a partner in an agrarian 
co-operative association. 

Mediaeval thought esteemed industry, commerce, and finance in 
inverse ratio to that in which power belongs to them to-day. The 
exaltation of Labour led to the perfection of craftmanship ; avarice 
in trading was condemned, and usury as a means of livelihood 
denounced. But it was the development of finance which, by 
bewildering and confusing mediaeval teachers, assisted to break up 
the moral basis of the mediaeval economy. The use of money as 
" capital " led to efforts to found a distinction between usury and 
justifiable interest. Practical sanction for the latter lay in the 
Increasing need for credit, which no social organization could 



THE MORALIZATION OF PROPERTY 155 

adequately furnish. The problem, which proved too much for 
mediaeval society, is in important respects similar to that which 
confronts our own. 

VI 

Mediaeval conceptions of property have been dealt with because 
they illuminate the strength and the limitations of the Christendom 
ideal so far as it was grasped by the Middle Ages. Criticisms of 
mediaeval social achievements are often beside the point in failing to 
recognize the value of the very attempt to formulate and maintain 
a moral basis for economic activities such an attempt being an 
indispensable prelude to the attainment of justice and stability. 

A similar attempt is demanded to-day, and the Church in formu- 
lating it would come to the rescue of the world. For want of it men 
are confused, and many among the " middle classes " cling to pro- 
perty (so far as they have experience of it) with a merely instinctive 
and indiscriminating tenacity which plays into the hands of the 
forces of plutocracy. The definition of property is stretched to 
include many anti-social prerogatives, most dangerous amongst which 
is the organized avarice of financial power, which holds sway since 
its claims and assumptions are generally accepted without their 
disastrous effects being understood. 

Behind the problem of property lies the problem of credit. But 
whereas real credit is essentially communal and based upon the 
ability of the community to produce what it needs, the issue of credit 
to-day is outside any sort of communal control and based merely 
on financial considerations. The issue of credit is equivalent to the 
issue of money, and those who control it are in command of the most 
extreme manifestation of property rights arising from monopoly 
which plutocracy displays. The inter-action of the banks and the 
industrial trusts in joint control of credit-issue and price-fixing is 
the means whereby the community, which might be free and 
prosperous, is impoverished and enslaved. 



VII 

The implications of the public monopoly of all economic functions, 
as plainly stated by such a unique authority as Lenin, are wholly 
incompatible with the social values inherent in the Christendom 
ideal. Equally, the moralization of property is impossible without 
the repudiation of the existing economic system. 

The Christendom ideal requires that in property for use every 
citizen should have a share, while property for power should be 
transmuted into communal functions regulated according to defined 
principles. Credit-issue and price regulation being withdrawn from 



156 THE MORALIZATION OF PROPERTY 

plutocracy and provided for by communal processes, property loses 
its anti-social potentialities. 

The further problem arises of relating the right of the individual 
to a share in the common inheritance to the facts of social production 
on a co-operative basis. This problem the " Distributivist " has 
tended to neglect. A clue to its solution lies in recognition of the 
fact that " the dividend is the logical successor of the wage." The 
distinction between a dividend and any sort of " pay " is a vital 
one ; and the dividend has no necessary relation to " production 
for profit." Immediate steps towards the attainment by the indivi- 
dual of a share in the communal product might be taken by the 
establishment in well organized industries of Credit Banks based on 
the credit inherent in Labour's ability to produce. Such banks 
would afford to the workers concerned the opportunity to develop 
an encroaching economic control over the industry involved, ending 
logically in proprietorship, but not including price-fixing. 

Credit Banks would further provide an economic basis for the 
revival of guild organization. Such a revival is indispensable to 
industrial self-government, and would contribute to the moralization 
of property by giving both the opportunity and the motive for good 
craftsmanship. The economic freedom involved in a share both in 
property and in guild organization would lead men to glorify God 
not only with their lips but by their acts, and translate Christendom 
from aspiration into reality. 



THE MORALIZATION OF PROPERTY 157 



CHAPTER VII 
THE MORALIZATION OF PROPERTY 



THE Christian who declares that there is no name under 
heaven, save only that of his Master, through which men 
may find their rescue and their hope, their vast opportunities 
preserved and their true natures fulfilled, is claiming something 
more far-reaching than he is himself ready in most instances 
to appreciate. He is preaching not only the redemption 
of personality ; he is pointing to the resurrection of society. 
The two are as inseparable and as interdependent in the 
fully comprehended Christian ideal as they would reveal 
themselves to be in the completely realized Kingdom of 
God upon earth. Yet the failure of the Christian witness 
in the world has been largely due to the readiness of its 
disciples to urge their fellow- men to " find Christ " without 
any effort to reveal to them that thus they may find Christen- 
dom. Christianity so presented affirms indeed the soul to 
be precious ; yet for all that, it leaves personality frustrated 
and isolated. It may lead men to hunger and thirst after 
righteousness, but it tempts them to rest content with a 
purely subjective realization of it. Hence the impression 
which remains with the world outside that Christians, in 
proclaiming " salvation," assert nothing but the possession 
of a kind of spiritual patent-right, the privileges of which 
they are prepared to concede, but on their own terms. The 
Faith thus never appears as a clue to the problems which 
bewilder and terrify mankind, but merely as a drug by 



158 THE MORALIZATION OF PROPERTY 

which the weak may hope to gain some degree of oblivion 
to them. 

It is for a clue, however, that the world is waiting a 
world, moreover, more ready to-day than it has been for 
many decades to realize how literally it needs to be saved ; 
saved from the fatal consequences to which, by its worship 
of false values, it now finds itself irresistibly driven. Pride, 
avarice, contempt for brotherhood and freedom these 
things have distorted the institutions through which men 
should find the security, the happiness, and the wide opportu- 
nities to afford them which is the very purpose of society. 
So far, indeed, has this process gone, that these institutions, 
normal to mankind in some form or another through centuries 
of social development, seem now diseased beyond recovery ; 
reformers despair of them, and resort to the devising of 
ingenious contrivances whereby they may be effectively 
superseded. Dismayed by the abuses which these institutions 
appear increasingly to display, some despair of marriage ; 
some of the family ; others, again, of the national grouping ; 
a few even despair of all established political forms. Most 
of all have those who contend for social change despaired of 
the institution of property. That distortion of its nature 
and purpose by plutocracy, to which brief reference has 
been made in an earlier chapter, has for many obscured by 
now every justification of it. They are impatient of any 
plea on its behalf. It is for them a mere abuse of power, 
an instrument of tyranny let it go the way of all such. 

It is often assumed that the defence of an institution will 
include a defence of its abuses : more commonly, however, 
it will rather involve the exposure of them. The defence 
of contemporary property rights en bloc and without qualifica- 
tion can be most successfully attempted by a refusal to dis- 
cuss them, or so far as possible to allow others to discuss 
them. That whatever is property to-day is rightly so, can 
only be affirmed by the unscrupulous or by the foolish. All 



we need require of such a defence is that it should be compelled 
to begin. Once opened, it provides the replies to its own 
contentions with automatic efficiency. Private property 
must be preserved as the guarantee of energy and initiative. 
Is our proletariat then to be criticized for displaying a 
deficiency of either ; and can we look to that one-eighth of 
our population which now enjoys to the full the experience 
of property-holding to supply the community with all it 
needs of work and enterprise ? Property is the just reward 
of saving. Then how chances it that the easy prodigality 
of Bond Street does not compel its patrons to change stations 
with those constrained to a relentless thrift in the Commercial 
Road ? Property is necessary to individual liberty. How then 
can the Home of Freedom still fail to facilitate its distribution 
to forty million of her citizens ? It is through the opera- 
tion of private property that society will best be served. 
Yet in regard to a number of commodities of capital importance 
a Government Committee assures us that a ring of property 
holders "are in a position to control output and prices " 
and society by means thereof. 

The fallacies embodied in such a line of argument do not 
stand in much need of exposure, they are too glaring to be 
hid ; but they do require to be exactly understood. There 
is a case for the preservation of property, but plutocracy can 
never urge it ; for plutocracy cares nothing for property, 
save as a means to the establishment of monopoly. It is 
upon the achievement of some form of monopoly that its 
most significant energies are concentrated. And whatever 
the case for extending the opportunities of establishing 
monopoly rights in private hands and fortifying the position 
of those who have acquired them, it bears no resemblance to 
the familiar defence of property. Monopoly, once achieved, 
offers no prospect of enterprise and initiative : it renders 
them superfluous. Monopoly is not the reward of saving ; 
it is the result of power, accident, or double-dealing often 



160 THE MORALIZATION OF PROPERTY 

of all three. Monopoly does not extend personal liberty : 
it assists still further to extinguish it. If it operates to 
serve society, it does so capriciously and precariously ; more 
often it merely exploits the public struggling in its relentless 
grip, and subjugates the very mind and spirit of men, en- 
forcing upon them its sordid standards and its cruel codes. 

II 

It is the purpose of this book to make plain that the ideal 
of Christendom is neither a mediaeval Utopia nor merely an 
inspiring " spiritual myth," but a vital conception of the 
most immediate and practical significance. It offers the 
clue, and the only complete one, for want of which society 
lies in bondage to confusion and despair. And this is true in 
particular of the problem of property. The Christendom 
ideal points to that perfect harmony between personal 
freedom and social function in which property becomes as 
much an organ of society as it does an expression of personality. 
For " a society in which the free activities of men are gathered 
together to create a social order which can be offered as a 
gift to the glory of God " cannot depend either upon subjective 
rights of property-holding irresponsibly exercised, nor upon 
objective functions categorically imposed. Property would 
exist in such a society to enable man to enjoy that independ- 
ence which is a condition of his contribution to the common 
purpose being rightly made : a divine motive would be ever 
present to reveal that common purpose to every man, so that 
he would realize more fully than purely mundane considera- 
tions will ever enable him to do, that fellowship is life and 
lack of fellowship is death. 

Personal freedom and social function these are the 
pillars of the Kingdom of God, and all social institutions must 
be built round them. To say that we have here the clue to 
the problem of property is not to say that we are enabled 
thereby to resolve all its difficulties. We shall have to 



THE MORALIZATION OF PROPERTY 161 

pick our way patiently through many of them in the course 
of this chapter, and many more lie outside its scope. But 
an attempt can be made in the light of the Christendom 
ideal to establish the contention that on the one hand the 
opportunities involved in true property-holding are a valid 
part of the vocation of every citizen who does not choose 
voluntarily to abjure them ; while on the other the pre- 
eminent obligations of fraternity must determine the condi- 
tions in which those opportunities are exercised. Property, 
in short, is a part of freedom ; but while it must not evaporate 
into Collectivism, it equally must not degenerate into private 
monopoly. 

We have seen already how this latter degeneration has 
ended by distorting the very nature of property, as it began 
by distorting its purpose. The origin of this evil process 
is not obscure. Property began to be conceived of as having 
rights unlimited and absolute when, with the break-up 
of the mediaeval order in face of the corruptions of authority, 
liberty began to be thought of not as an attribute of citizenship, 
but rather as a right purely individual. Loss of the idea of 
a social purpose such as the Christendom ideal so uniquely 
supplies and illuminates obscures the social and relative 
natures of both liberty and property. In the reaction against 
the results of this error, men tend to conclude that liberty 
and property are things of which the average person cannot 
be trusted to make a good use ; the State must take charge 
of them and " ration " them discreetly. Private property 
allied to unrestricted individualism having issued in private 
monopoly, the reformer sees no alternative but the establish- 
ment of a public monopoly in the economic resources of 
society. It is a desperate remedy, for it delivers the com- 
munity into the hands of its politicians and magistrates ; 
and freedom finds new bureaucrat but old capitalist writ 
large. 

But before we turn to consider the validity of the socialist 

11 



162 THE MORALIZATION OF PROPERTY 

attitude to property as it is ordinarily understood, it is 
necessary to dispute finally and without any reservation the 
possibility of any solution for the problem of property being 
discoverable along the lines of the plutocratic evolution of 
to-day. For the prime characteristic of modern property 
rights is that they carry with them power over the lives of 
others and the destinies of society in general. 

The capitalist, in virtue of his industrial power, controls 
the working condition of thousands of wage-slaves ; the 
financier, by the exercise of a power more subtle but more 
absolute, determines the very nature of production by his 
monopoly of credit, and subjugates employer and consumer 
alike. The concentration of property means the domination 
of society by the power of money, an influence entirely 
illegitimate in any true community. Its effect is inevit- 
ably disruptive, uneconomic, and capricious. No brotherhood 
could survive the concession of increased power and influence 
to any of its members on the ground of material possessions, 
and no society can approximate to a brotherhood while 
it still does so. Yet who will be found to deny that the 
influence of money-power is the prime feature of our civiliza- 
tion ? The results are glaring and all perceive them : to 
say that they are anti-social is a statement of the case not 
only moderate, but one which has the further merit of being 
exactly accurate. A prodigal recklessness in the opulent 
few is matched by a desperate recklessness in the destitute 
many ; while between them sways an incoherent mass who 
cling to " property," so far as they have any experience of it, 
with an uninquiring timidity, content that the few should 
control the land if they be but allowed to cling to the rocks 
of the island of plutocracy. If the moralization of property 
is to be begun, we must banish the wretched contemporary 
caricature of it from our minds, and redeem the institution 
from its degradation before a new tyranny rises up to revenge 
itself upon the old. 



Ill 

Property rights in private hands have become the means 
to the exercise of power over those deprived of them and a 
stimulus to anti-social greed : let the community extinguish 
those rights by possessing itself of them, and these devastating 
evils will disappear. Such has been the basic doctrine of 
the Socialists. Its superficial cogency may be admitted, 
but its enunciation must needs be (as it has in fact been), 
but the prelude to an exhaustive discussion of the limits of 
its applicability ; the kinds of property requiring such 
treatment and susceptible of it ; the nature of the social 
organization to which it can be safely entrusted ; the stages 
through which such a development ought to or may require 
to pass. How little Socialists themselves have agreed about 
these things is generally known, and every fresh endeavour 
to explore such problems only accentuates this complexity. 
But two main schools may be discerned, though the practical 
differences between them are perhaps fewer than their dis- 
ciples realize. 

To consider first the implications of Communism. The 
word was for long an essentially academic one ; and many 
an Anarchist-Communist indulged in his dream of the common 
use at individual discretion of goods and services which it was 
nobody's particular obligation to provide, without gaining 
more attention than proposals of so little relevance to circum- 
stances ordinarily received. 1 A few critics stayed to point 
out that not only did such a conception involve a degree of 
enlightened individualism impossible to attain in any com- 
munity fortuitously composed, but that such an amorphous 
society could never exhibit the vitality, to say nothing of 

1 Not every exponent of Anarchist-Communism was so light- 
heartedly unsystematic as this of course. Some of the contemporary 
Guild Socialists would claim Kropotkin as a forerunner of their ideals 
and even of their proposals. 



164 THE MORALIZATION OF PROPERTY 

the efficiency, of one in which the positive value of social 
institutions which corresponded to essential functions was 
realized and exemplified. But the Russian revolution and 
its international reverberations have swept this version of 
Communism into oblivion, and recalled to us that the authentic 
origins of the term must be looked for in a Manifesto of 
1847 and an uprising of 1871. We have said something in 
an earlier chapter of the Communist experiment to-day, 
and its relation to our ideal. In regard to property, it can 
certainly be said that the Soviet Republic has made a more 
complete and ruthless attempt to entrench upon the rights 
of private ownership and individual discretion than has ever 
been made in the history of the world. The attempt has 
been made and it has failed, and the policy is already in many 
important respects being abandoned. It has failed because 
initiative being destroyed, and liberty, individual and corpor- 
ate, existing only on sufferance, no inducement could arise to 
replace the sordid motives on which capitalism has relied. 
Peasants, whose livelihood had depended on the wise develop- 
ment of their property, found themselves harassed and men- 
aced by a bungling bureaucracy, until they lost all motive to 
produce for more than their own immediate needs. Industrial 
workers found themselves as much divorced as before from 
control over the property on which they worked and still 
largely subject to an external dictatorship in matters of 
labour discipline. Communism, in the name of the public 
interest, has concentrated all the tyrannies of irresponsible 
private property in itself, destroying the capitalist, and 
making the financier obsolete, but only by " shifting the 
credit basis from the bank-note to the machine gun." 1 

Russian Communism has certainly demonstrated that 
the public absorption of property can render rich men poor, 

1 Credit-Power and Democracy, by C. H. Douglas, p. 63. The 
economic implications of the Bolshevik policy are very well brought 
out in Chapters V. and VI. of this remarkable book. 



THE MORALIZATION OF PROPERTY 165 

but the more crucial problem of making poor men richer 
has not been solved thereby, nor will it ever be if by " richer " 
we mean, as we should, richer in freedom and richer in oppor- 
tunity as well as in material possessions. The Socialist of 
the Collectivist type is ready enough to criticize Communist 
methods, but his programme is not greatly different in aim ; 
though he has often been able to appreciate that the in- 
discriminate provision of communal services at the public 
expense is rather a limitation of freedom than an expansion 
of it, since ultimately it dictates the nature of the individual's 
expenditure, instead of leaving this a matter of personal 
choice. Moreover, the Socialist is generally at pains to make 
clear that he has no desire to interfere with rights over private 
property save in so far as these are a part of " the means 
of production, distribution and exchange." The definition 
is a wide one, and the questions it raises are not simple. 
One question above all is of capital importance, and has 
never been more engagingly stated than it was twenty years 
ago in a characteristic hyperbole by one of the very few 
critics of Socialism who have exhibited both a passion for 
democracy and a sense of humour. 

" I have a number of friends who agree with me in thinking 
this, that art should not be competitive or industrial, but 
most of them go on to the very strange conclusion that one 
should not own one's garden, nor one's beehive, nor one's 
great, noble house, nor one's pigsty, nor one's railway shares, 
nor the very boots on one's feet. I say, out upon such non- 
sense ! Then they say to me, what about the concentration 
of the means of production ? And I say to them, what about 
the distribution of the ownership of the concentrated means 
of production ? And they shake their heads sadly, and say 
it would never endure ; and I say, try it first and see. Then 
they fly into a rage." I 

Before we accept the claim of central authority to entrench 
1 H. Belloc, The Path to Rome, p. in. 



166 THE MORALIZATION OF PROPERTY 

itself, in the name of a formula, upon the sphere of owner- 
ship, let us be clear to ourselves what is the essence of owner- 
ship and of how much is the citizen deprived who has no 
experience of it. The true meaning of ownership does not 
lie in any abuses of power or gain to which it is subject, but 
in the assurance of security, the sense of responsibility, the 
opportunity for self-direction, freedom of choice and some 
form of arranging one's own life in advance. The effect 
of the absence of such powers the following passage will 
suggest : 

" The vast mass of workers in our towns have long ago 
ceased to have any right of possession over the tools or 
materials of their occupation ; . . . they have no secure- 
footing of their own, no self-dependent area on which to 
fall back, no reserved resources which are under their own 
control and direction. Their existence is never in their own 
hands ; nor are they responsible for their own maintenance. 
The stability, the power to look before and after, the assured 
hold on reality, the embodiment of their wills in a material 
fact, which we philosophically recognize to be the moral and 
spiritual value of private ownership all this is denied to 
them. They enjoy no sense of background such as would 
endow their individual lives with a certain dignity. They 
exist on the surface ; they cannot strike roots and establish 
permanency. ... It is just the moral discipline of respon- 
sible ownership which they are bound to lack.". 1 

It is clear that these attributes of liberty and citizenship 
must be restored to the masses in a free society : it is not 
clear that a purely public ownership either would or could 
restore them. Just as State service without guild control 
cannot afford men freedom in the industrial sphere, so State 
monopoly without some guaranteed share in the social in- 
heritance for every individual cannot provide them security 

1 Canon Scott Holland in the volume of essays entitled Property i 
its Duties and Rights. 



THE MORALIZATION OF PROPERTY 167 

in the economic one. Not the prohibition of property 
rights but their moralization is what we have to aim at 
if we are not to put the individual at the mercy of the political 
authorities. We have to see what light Christian tradition 
may throw on such a process, and what practical develop- 
ments it may involve for society to-day. 

IV 

It will be clear from the standpoint already elaborated 
in this chapter that the moralization of property cannot be 
brought about merely by a discreet and benevolent exercise 
on the part of existing property owners of rights now legally 
belonging to them, irrespective of the nature of such property 
or the present distribution of it. The moralization of property- 
holding involves a new outlook, not merely upon the obliga- 
tions of it, but upon the sanctions which give it a title to 
exist. Anything less than this is not only utterly inadequate 
in principle, but it is very largely ineffective in practice. 
It has often been urged, for instance, that the claims of the 
worker to a " full life " must be the first charge upon the 
industry in which he is engaged ; and a body of shareholders 
have even combined in a public statement to declare their 
conviction " that the claims of the workers to wages making 
it possible for them to live a full and free life come before the 
claims of shareholders to dividends " ; and that they " are 
prepared to accept whatever personal loss shall arise " 
through the reorganization involved to produce such a result. 
The declaration was by no means without value in some 
respects, but it could have no practical bearing on the present 
organization of industry, since that organization is from 
beginning to end devised to produce money values, and 
money values only, and would immediately become ineffective 
if efforts were made to adapt it to humaner purposes without 
radical change. The purposes of industrial activity to-day 



168 THE MORALIZATION OF PROPERTY 

are ultimately determined by finance, and while the community 
allows the functions which finance so inadequately performs 
to be exercised by private corporations for their own enrich- 
ment, the emancipation of industry and the moralization of 
property will remain equally unrealizable. 

Yet another theory, and a very dangerous one, is often 
advanced among Christians as providing a sufficient justifica- 
tion of property rights in their present form, or something 
not widely different from it. This is the doctrine of " steward- 
ship." It is contended that great riches, so far from being 
regarded as the fruit of avarice, the seed of tyranny, and the 
means of luxury, ought to be looked upon as affording a unique 
opportunity for the exercise of benevolence and charity. The 
argument is not generally stated so plainly, but in a confused 
sort of way it has been employed to add a welcomed sanction 
to the " deceitfulness of riches." It is necessary to observe 
that this comfortable theory contains not only a spiritual 
falsehood, but an economic fallacy, for such a " stewardship " 
is outside the ability of any individual to execute. The 
ability to lay out money wisely is, like other human capaci- 
ties, strictly limited ; and luxury expenditure, in which form 
" benevolence " so often clothes itself, is normally a process 
so uneconomic as to be anti-social. The administration of 
wealth is not a " stewardship," it is a dictatorship ; since 
riches involve a power over others, degrading alike to those 
who are possessed of it and to those who are its passive 
dependents. 1 
It is recorded of a brilliant leader of fashionable society 

1 I do not wish to be taken as denying the personal responsibility 
of the individual Christian in regard to the investment and expenditure 
of the wealth of which he finds himself in charge under our prevailing 
social arrangements. I seek only to deny that the exercise of that 
responsibility, however admirably fulfilled, can ever be a sufficient 
substitute for complete social reorganization, even though every 
individual Christian strove his utmost to be worthy of his oppor- 
tunities. 



THE MORALIZATION OF PROPERTY 169 

to-day, that on someone remarking in her hearing, " After 
all, you cannot serve God and Mammon," she interposed 
with the characteristic comment, " / can ! " It is a wide- 
spread, if largely a secret conviction. Men feel that the 
perils of wealth, however subtle and universal, can somehow 
be circumvented in their own particular case. It is an 
impression, however, for which no grounds are to be discovered 
in the Gospels ; and Christ, who " came to fulfil the Law and 
the Prophets," endorsed in doing so the most resolute and 
elaborate attempt to achieve the moralization of property 
that has ever, perhaps, been made by an organized community. 1 
Read, as it should be, in the light of the Mosaic code as a 
whole, the Eighth Commandment, says Dr. Bartlett, " tells 
against all accumulation of land and wealth as ' private 
Property ' which affects inequitably and oppressively the 
opportunities and welfare of men and women, as God's own 
special property." The prophets arose to testify to the 
apostasy involved in social injustice and to develop and uplift 
that ideal of the Kingdom which Christ Himself, as the 
greatest of them, made, as has been already demonstrated, 3 
the very essence of His teaching. In the demand that His 
followers should " seek first the Kingdom of God and His 
righteousness " so that thereby all other things should be 
added unto them, He was uttering no recommendation to 
a mere idle personal piety sustained by the work of others, 
but a declaration that only in a community of fellowship 
and justice can men hope to find their material problems 
solved. 

It is not possible within the limits of this chapter, nor 
is it necessary, to trace the developments through which 
Christian doctrines as to property rights have passed nor 
the causes which have influenced them. At two epochs of 

1 See the essay by Dr. Vernon Bartlett in Properly t its Duties 
and Rights. 

See above. Chapter IV. 



170 THE MORALIZATION OF PROPERTY 

history, however, does the attitude of the Church seem to 
have been of crucial importance the moment when she first 
found the forces of government no longer in bitter hostility, 
but offering an official alliance, and the period during which 
her teaching had its completest influence over the newly- 
developed civilization of Christian Europe. The first of 
these two supreme opportunities found the Church spiritually 
unprepared and morally unequal to her mission of " over- 
coming the world." For whatever reasons and it is not 
difficult to discern them x the Faith had lost that aggressive 
quality, that power of moral initiative which could alone 
have built a new and noble civilization out of the crumbling 
ruins of the Roman world. " The social order remaining 
at this crucial point unadjusted to the full spirit of the 
Gospel of Divine Fatherhood and Human Brotherhood, 
came to react adversely on Christian ideals of property 
generally. Broadly speaking, the idea of property as a social 
and economic institution really remained pagan and, so far 
as embodied in law, Roman in its spirit and presuppositions. 
. . . Civic and economic life was in principle left to go its 
own way according to its own secular and selfish laws, as a 
system outside the redemptive control of Christian motives 
and methods." 3 



From this failure to rise to the height of her mission the 
Church has never wholly recovered. The moment when 
she will finally realize and fulfil it is still in front of her. 

Nevertheless, the attempt made by the mediaeval Church 
to develop a body of teaching which should cover every aspect 
of man's social life was, for all its defects, a very noble one, 
and the ideal of Christendom was prefigured, even if it was 

1 See Dr. Bartlett's above-mentioned essay, pp. 108-116. 
1 Property : its Duties and Rights, pp. 113, 115. 



THE MORALIZATION OF PROPERTY 171 

not exemplified, in it. The theory of property which formed 
the basis of mediaeval economics had been evolved through 
long centuries of Christian thought upon the subject, and it 
found its most characteristic and elaborate exposition in 
the writings of Aquinas. The sanctions for private property- 
holding according to this theory were essentially social, 
and Aquinas refused to recognize any private right in property, 
since a man must hold those things which are his as for the 
common use and must minister of what he has to the necessities 
of others. Aquinas found a justification for private property 
in three considerations, all of which contributed to the 
common interest : it provided an incentive to energy ; it 
facilitated the better ordering of human affairs by affording 
to each his particular function in the task of procuring goods 
for the community ; and it provided a basis for social peace 
and order by giving to each his particular share to look 
after. Whatever the validity of this particular vindication 
of private property, it is clear that it can only have any 
force or, indeed, any meaning at all in reference to a social 
order in which a share in property and its opportunities was 
a matter of universal experience. And despite much that 
was inequitable and tyrannical in the social conditions of 
the time, such experience was infinitely more universal 
than it is to-day. 

Mediaeval economic teaching, moreover, is of great import- 
ance in that it was employed as an end to the maintenance 
of human solidarity, and not as it has commonly been in 
modern times as an apologia for the destruction of it. The 
distinction is fundamental, and the cause of it not less so. 
It has been explained by a modern authority in the statement 
that " the application of ethics to economic transactions was 
rendered possible by the existence of one universally recognized 
code of morality and the presence of one universally accepted 
moral Teacher." J In short, the ideal of the brotherhood of 

1 Dr. George O'Brien in An Essay on Medi&val Economic Teaching. 



man followed upon a recognition of the Fatherhood of God 
and the authority of Christ. The Church in the Middle 
Ages certainly enforced far more clearly than it has ever done 
since the personal responsibility of each of its members in 
matters of social righteousness ; yet it did so in relation to 
a social ideal the mediaeval conception of Christendom 
more comprehensive and more completely adequate than any 
political theory or economic doctrine has in later ages been 
able to provide. 

Save in the light of this ideal it is impossible to perceive 
the real nature and significance of such practical exemplifica- 
tions of mediaevalism as the guilds. Indeed, it is doubtful 
whether the historical significance of economic theory can 
be rightly appreciated unless the further factor of the " corpor- 
ate mind " expressing itself in public opinion and the social 
action following upon it is taken into account. It is evident 
that a society which visited " forestallers " and " regraters " 
with humiliating and even savage punishments, and which 
exercised a rigid corporate control over price-fixing and the 
whole sphere of industrial production, had very different ideas 
about the rights of property from those in ascendancy to-day. 
The guild system, for instance, was based on private owner- 
ship, but it allowed of property only within the governing 
principles of Vocation and Fraternity. Prices the weapon 
of the profiteer could not be fixed at individual discretion, 
but had to be corporately determined according to the 
principle of the " Justum Pretium," which operated not 
merely to protect the consumer in the maintenance of a 
standard of quality but also to safeguard the worker's standard 
of life. Property, moreover, did not ordinarily give the 
individual employer the right to hire workers on his own 
terms ; these latter were generally apprenticed to the guild 
as a whole ; they had a right of appeal to it against their 
employer ; and they had a reasonable hope of rising to the 
rank of guild-master in their turn. Even in the country- 



THE MORALIZATION OF PROPERTY 173 

side, where elements of servitude restricted the independence 
of the peasant, manorial property did not operate to reduce 
him to the status of a proletarian, and " the ordinary child 
was still born into a system in which the basis of his work 
and livelihood was assured to him." Herr Beer says of the 
peasants of the 1381 rebellion, " They were not atomized, 
propertyless proletarians, but partners of agrarian co-opera- 
tive associations, imbued with the traditions of their ancient 
liberties and with sentiments of communal life . . . they 
did not formulate any communist programme, for they were 
not suffering from a system of private property, but from 
encroachments upon their common rights, and against these 
encroachments they rebelled." J 

It is worth noting that mediaeval thought esteemed industry, 
commerce, and finance in precisely the opposite order to 
that in which power and influence belong to them to-day. 
The association of the idea of property with the obligation 
of personal activity in connection with it, and the exaltation 
of work as distinguished from commerce, led to that perfection 
of the objects of work which resulted in the beauty and 
stability of mediaeval craftmanship. The temptations to 
avarice in the business of trading were clearly recognized, 
and the social dangers involved in the abuse thereof were also 
fully appreciated. Speculative trading was universally con- 
demned, and usury as a means of livelihood unsparingly 
denounced. 

But here we come upon a point of considerable importance, 
for not only does it furnish a significant clue to the forces 
which were to prove too strong for the effort to develop a 
complete moralization of property at the end of the mediaeval 
age, but it is highly relevant to any similar one which man 
may make to-day. For it was the development of finance 
which partly bewildered and partly defeated the mediaeval 
economic teachers in their attempts to preserve a doctrine of 
1 History of British Socialism, voL i. p. 20. 



social righteousness in a rapidly expanding world-order. 
Money had so long been regarded as being fundamentally 
a medium of exchange (as it ought to be), that it was not for 
a long time perceived that it could also be employed as 
" capital," and indeed the opportunity for its being so but 
slowly emerged. It was, however, gradually borne in upon 
mediaeval writers that a distinction might exist between 
" usury " and a legitimate payment for the hire of money, or 
rather money-power ; and consequently all sorts of efforts to 
explore paths which might disclose justifiable sanctions for the 
exaction of interest were embarked upon. 1 But the most 
important justification of interest was in fact the practical 
one which lay in the increasing necessity for credit, while 
no organization (save such small and inadequate experiments 
as the monies pietatis) for the communal control and issue of 
credit-power was in existence. Before this problem fell 
not only the mediaeval economic theory, but the actual social 
achievement of that noble approximation to the Christen- 
dom ideal which the Middle Ages in some directions really 
attempted. 2 If the origin of the problem was spiritual in 
essence, it was none the less one of very practical implications, 
and strikingly similar in both respects to that by which society 
is so crucially confronted to-day. 

1 An interesting and exhaustive account of these is given by Dr 
O'Brien, op. cit. chapter iii. section 2. 

* Space does not permit the discussion of how far the centrali ration, 
so largely implicit in mediaeval Catholicism, was a factor in the decline 
of the society it dominated. In the sphere of economics it certainly 
tended to impose a rigidity which, despite the ingenuity of ecclesiastical 
writers on the subject, made it impossible for them to maintain the 
relation between moral values and social practice in an age of technical 
and commercial expansion. The danger of rigidity is never absent 
from centralization, whether it be that of Leninism, of International 
Finance, or of Papal Autocracy. 



THE MORALIZATION OF PROPERTY 175 



VI 

It is not within the scope of this chapter to trace the change 
of ideas as to the basis of property rights after the break- 
up of mediaeval society, spiritual and secular. 1 It has glanced 
at mediaeval conceptions of property only because these serve 
to illuminate both the strength and limitations of the 
Christendom ideal as it was dimly grasped by the Middle 
Ages. It is often urged by critics of mediaeval society that 
the men of that time were at least no better individually 
than are men to-day ; that they continually exhibited a 
failure to live up to their own standards, and that the litera- 
ture of the age teems with denunciation of avarice and 
corruption. The truth of these criticisms (which is often 
exaggerated) does not affect the validity of the contention 
that in the attempt to formulate and maintain a moral basis 
for economic activities, mediaeval society was showing itself 
conscious of the fact that such an attempt was an absolutely 
indispensable prelude to the achievement of any sort of 
social justice and stability whatsoever. Men organized 
deliberately to make ideals of Vocation and Fraternity a 
social reality and to render more difficult the emergence 
of those evil proclivities which economic operations are 
always liable to arouse in the human breast. When we 
regard the achievements of mediaeval craftmanship we may 
feel content to judge the society that produced them by its 
work. But it is far more important to judge it by its faith. 
For that Faith, however dimly we perceive its social implica- 
tions, or fail to apply them to the whole of our life, is the 
Faith of Christendom ; and it is in the light of it that we 

1 See on this subject the chapter by H. G. Wood in Property : its 
Duties and Rights ; also chapters ii. and ix. in R. H. Tawney's The 
Acquisitive Society, to which book the present writer is greatly in- 
debted, particularly in respect of the admirable chapter on " Property 
and Creative Work." 



176 THE MORALIZATION OF PROPERTY 

must go forward to the new social order, by the unfolding 
of which the Church may yet come once again to the 
rescue of the world. 

We have reached the culmination of plutocracy. " The 
institution of property has, in its modern form, reached its 
zenith as a means of giving to the few the power over the 
life of the many, and its nadir as a means of securing to the 
many the basis of regular industry, purposeful occupation, 
freedom, and self-support." 1 While this is true, it is still 
the case, however, that to many thousands in the " middle 
classes," a slender hold on " property " exists, and represents 
the one social reality of which they will never willingly let 
go on any plea whatsoever. And this is not from any peculiar 
reverence for riches, nor, in the majority of cases, from 
any special desire to accumulate them, but simply from the 
conviction that only through property comes the power to 
make provision for the morrow and resist, if need be, the 
dictation of others. The grounds for such a tenacity are, 
then, natural enough ; but the effects of it to-day are dis- 
astrous because it is almost entirely instinctive, and rallies 
to the defence of the most monstrous prerogatives and 
monopolies if only the definition of property can somehow 
be stretched to include them. And stretched it accordingly 
is, 2 so that the most indispensable personal tools and the 
most flagrantly unjustifiable tolls are not only defended by 
the same arguments by the unscrupulous champions of wealth, 
but subject to the same criticisms by the enemies of it. The 
humblest annuity-holder thus enrols in the bodyguard of 
plutocracy, and every shaft of the Socialist assailant serves 
only to confirm him in his unwarrantable allegiance. 
While the forces continue thus aligned the struggle for 

' Professor L. T. Hobhouse in Property : its Duties and Rights, 
P- 23. 

J For the widely varying nature of existing property rights, see 
The Acquisitive Society, pp. 57, 67. 



THE MORALIZATION OF PROPERTY 177 

emancipation will never succeed, and the money-lord will 
be left in the secure supremacy of his golden castle. Indeed 
he will only be driven from there when every valid interest 
in the community realizes the fatal influence of the dominion 
exercised by the organized avarice of financial power. It 
is to this power ultimately, and not to any normal forms of 
property, that all economic policy is now subservient. It is 
a power operating behind an effective smoke-screen of technical 
obscurities and fallacious assumptions. Finance, indeed, 
is the black magic of our age. Men of all classes offer it 
obsequious worship even while they groan beneath its sinister 
effects. They imagine it facilitates the production of what 
society needs ; in fact it is precisely such production that it 
thwarts. They imagine its pronouncements are beyond 
dispute ; in fact the first condition of all social betterment 
is that these should be disputed. The task was one in urgent 
need of being taken up ; it has been so, and the unspoken 
challenge of Finance is now answered. * That answer, however, 
whatever its merits, can only concern us here in so far as it 
throws light on the nature of some contemporary " property 
rights " and helps us to distinguish the abuses of money- 
power from the attributes of a sane conception of ownership. 
Without space to elaborate the matter, it must be boldly 
affirmed that behind the problem of property lies the problem 
of credit. And the problem of credit requires as a first 
condition of its solution a general recognition of the source 
from which it is ultimately derived, and a determination to 
establish a communal control of it which shall be consistent 
therewith. For that source is of course the community 
itself, with that heritage of invention, skill, and material 

1 The writer is referring to the case presented by Mr. C. H. Douglas 
in his striking and original books Economic Democracy and Credit- 
Power and Democracy. His general agreement with that case is not 
shared by all the collaborators in this volume, and for the deductions 
derived from it in the following pages he is alone responsible. 

12 



178 THE MORALIZATION OF PROPERTY 

resources which by this time gives to it the ability to produce 
substantially all that its members, as consumers, demand. 
This ability to produce what is actually required constitutes 
the real credit of the community, yet the issue of credit to 
facilitate production is not now under any sort of communal 
control whatsoever. On the contrary, it is in the hands of 
half-a-dozen banking amalgamations of enormous power, 
which constitute what is virtually a money-trust on which 
the whole sphere of industry is dependent. Moreover, the 
considerations on which the issue of bank credit depend are 
financial merely ; they bear no relation to the needs which 
a truly social production would be concerned to satisfy, but are 
concerned only with the probability of the capitalist organiza- 
tions which apply for credit facilities being able to recover in 
prices from the public the equivalent of the purchasing power 
which such an issue of credit represents. 

It is no part of our present task to trace all the consequences 
of this fatal system, though it is of the first importance 
that their full effects should be generally appreciated. Our 
purpose in calling attention to the conditions of credit-issue 
to-day is to emphasize the fact that they give to the con- 
trollers of credit the power of actually creating the equivalent 
of money, and taxing those whose activities require the 
concession of credit for the use of it. Such a power is the most 
extreme, as it is the most perilous, example of property 
rights arising from monopoly which plutocracy affords, the 
most fundamental usurpation of communal rights which it 
has achieved. A money-trust controlling credit working in 
conjunction (and often in actual combination) with industrial 
trusts controlling prices, and taking from the public not only 
the cost of the article produced, but the cost of maintaining 
and improving the means of producing further articles, 
besides the amount needed to repay the bank for the financial 
credit conceded, represents an interpretation of property 
which, communally considered, verges upon insanity. It 



THE MORALIZATION OF PROPERTY 179 

permanently impoverishes the many to serve only the most 
sordid interests of the few ; it frustrates the production which, 
scientifically employed, could fully satisfy, with a tithe 
of existing effort, the reasonable needs of all ; and substitutes 
for that universal claim on the communal inheritance through 
the exercise of which men could gain security and freedom, 
the fortification of monopolies by which the masses are 
rendered needy and enslaved. 

VII 

How, then, in our conception of a returning Christendom 
are we to envisage the future of property ? Must we regard 
it as an institution incapable any longer of proving to be of 
service to society ? Is the social control of avarice so im- 
possible that private liberty and individual discretion must 
be surrendered altogether to State organization and public 
monopoly ? Such a prospect is not inviting. The most re- 
lentless thinker, who is at the same time the most thorough- 
going practical exponent of modern Socialism, has thus 
depicted it. " Socialism," says Lenin, " is impossible without 
large capitalist technique constructed according to the last 
word in science, without systematic State organization subject- 
ing millions of people to the strict observation of a uniform 
standard of production and distribution of products. We 
Marxians have always said this, and it is hardly worth wasting 
even two seconds in arguing this point with people who 
do not understand it." I The implications of the public mono- 
poly of all economic functions could hardly be more plainly 
stated, and thus stated, we see them to be wholly incompatible 
with the social values inherent in the Christendom ideal. 

1 See his article on " The Meaning of Agricultural Tax " in the 
Labour Monthly, July 1921, p. 21. The whole article is profoundly 
significant, as when on p. 23 he observes: " Capitalism is an evil in 
comparison with Socialism, but Capitalism is a blessing in comparison 
with Mediae valism." 



180 THE MORALIZATION OF PROPERTY 

On the other hand, we have seen how impossible is the moraliza- 
tion of property without the repudiation of an economic 
system based primarily upon money values, and a readiness 
to revise the basis upon which property rights can establish 
a legitimate claim to social recognition. 

This book has not been written to formulate a precise 
social programme, but to present an ideal and to make clear 
what is involved in it. The vision of Christendom reveals 
men contributing in freedom to the common purpose of 
building up a social order which can be offered to God as 
something consonant with His will for mankind which He 
has created, loved, and enfranchised. What such a large 
and splendid conception implies in the worship of the Church, 
in the organization of work and in the realization of human 
brotherhood other chapters suggest ; what is written here 
of its bearing upon property must be read in conjunction with 
them, if its place in the whole scheme is to be appreciated. 

Its implication in regard to property may perhaps be best 
suggested by the adoption of a familiar distinction. In 
property for use every citizen must be afforded his personal 
share : property for power as it exists to-day must be trans- 
muted into communal functions, regulated not by the whim 
of officials, but according to denned and generally recognized 
principles. The destruction of private monopoly involves 
the vesting of credit-issue in communal organizations, while 
price regulation must depend no longer on purely financial 
considerations, but upon the true economic reality involved 
in the relation of goods consumed to goods produced. These 
vital changes achieved, the evil attributes of property vanish, 
since society can no longer be exploited by means of it ; and 
it becomes possible to evolve a social order which, without 
severing the individual from such hold upon property rights 
as shall guarantee his independence, shall yet safeguard the 
community from the anti-social activities for which private 
monopoly gives scope, and preserve the industrial co-opera- 



THE MORALIZATION OF PROPERTY 181 

tion which, whatever technical developments may emerge 
in a free society, is likely to be involved in the economic 
structure of the future. 

The latter point is an important one, since the few champions 
of a distributed property who have arisen in this monopolistic 
age have tended to neglect the social basis of modern produc- 
tion. The " Distributivist " has been too exclusively an 
individualist. Moreover, he has been preoccupied almost 
solely with the peasant, and with the peasant considered less 
as a partner in an agrarian community than as an isolated 
proprietor exercising absolute powers over his own fields. 
This has given to his position an element not perhaps of 
unreality, but at least of irrelevance to the main problems 
by which society is now confronted. What is necessary is 
to relate the claim of the individual to a personal share in 
the national inheritance to the facts of social production and 
industrial solidarity. 

Paradoxical as it may appear, a clue to the problem may 
perhaps be found in a feature of that form of organization 
which industrial capitalism adopted in order to enlarge its 
potentialities the Limited Liability Company, as a result 
of which the individual entrepreneur gave way to the associa- 
tion of shareholders. " The dividend," says Mr. Douglas 
in a penetrating passage, 1 " is the logical successor to the 
wage, carrying with it privileges which the wage never had 
and never can have, whether it be rechristened pay, salary, 
or any other alias ; because the nature of all these is a dole 
of purchasing power revocable by authority, whereas a dividend 
is a payment, absolute and unconditional, of something 
due. The first is servitude, however disguised, the second 
is the primary step to economic emancipation. ... It may 
not be superfluous to point out that there is no more inevitable 

1 It is necessary to state that the conclusion indicated in this 
quotation is one from which strong dissent is expressed by at least 
one contributor to this volume. 



182 THE MORALIZATION OF PROPERTY 

connection between dividends and ' production for profit ' 
than between 'pay' and Socialism." 1 Whatever might 
be the ultimate means through which the individual would 
receive his share of communal product, it would seem that 
a start might be made in the large and better organized 
industries by the foundation of a Credit Bank in each case, 
based on the Industrial Union involved, through which all 
the salaries and wages of those registered as being engaged 
in this industry would be paid. Such a bank would differ 
from the profiteering banks of to-day, which " live by making 
money and putting it into circulation," in that it would 
issue capital as occasion arose corresponding to the real credit 
inherent in the ability of its members to produce (in con- 
junction with the owners of the plant) what the community 
required from the industry in question. It need only be added 
that by the issue of such fresh capital, the Labour Bank would 
enable the workers concerned to develop an encroaching 
economic control over the product and plant of the industry 
which would logically end in proprietorship a proprietorship, 
however, which could not include the power of fixing prices. 
Individual workers would, as members of the bank, draw 
from the industry a progressively increasing dividend irre- 
spective of their pay, which would not cease on their retirement. 
These proposals are referred to, without any attempt to 
elaborate them, since they add practicality to what otherwise 
might appear as vague and unrealizable ideals. It seems 
clear to the present writer that the development of industrial 
credit-banks would provide an economic basis for that revival 
of guild organization of which mention has already been made 
in these pages, and which is certainly indispensable to the 
achievement of industrial self-government for the workers 
of every grade. Such organization, by entrusting the control 
of production to those actually engaged in it, and by setting 
them free to labour without regard to the creation of money- 
1 Credit-Power and Democracy, pp. 43-44. 



THE MORALIZATION OF PROPERTY 183 

values as such, would bring within sight another aspect of 
the moralization of property, by affording both the opportunity 
and the motive for the making of things which should be 
fitting to their purpose and beautiful in themselves. The 
vast deluge of ugly and meretricious articles poured out 
by the commercial system of to-day reflects the sordid and 
transient motives which induce the production of it. Men 
with the assured status that economic freedom and industrial 
responsibility will give them will consent to produce only 
what they would be proud themselves to own. The moraliza- 
tion of property will restore dignity and joy not to men only, 
but to all to which they may turn their hand. In the 
Christendom whither our Faith beckons us, God's children 
will glorify Him by their acts no less completely than with 
their lips. 



THE FAILURE OF MARXISM 

BY 

REV. NILES CARPENTER, M.A., PH.D. 

Instructor and Tutor in Social Ethics, Harvard University 



186 THE FAILURE OF MARXISM 



SYNOPSIS 

For the Christian Marxism is an alien force : an examination of 
its principles reveals the reasons for this. 

Marxism is generally held to embody three leading ideas : (i) The 
law of capitalist accumulation. (2) The class war. (3) The materi- 
alistic conception of history. To these a fourth is often added the 
dictatorship of the proletariat, but this is not accepted as a part of 
Marxism by all its adherents. 

These theories outlined, (i) Centres round the labour value concept 
and leads to the demand for the abolition of the wage-system. It has 
two important corollaries : the theory of the rate of profit and the 
doctrine of increasing misery. (2) Is held to have been the moving 
force of all history and to be the means of the future overthrow of 
capitalism. (3) Leads to the deduction that this overthrow is inevit- 
able once technical progress reaches a certain point. 

Before criticism of these doctrines is undertaken the great value 
of Marx's work has first to be acknowledged, (i) He dealt a death- 
blow to old-school economics. (2) His theories all contain important 
elements of truth. (3) He brought to the cause of Labour brilliant 
abilities, wide scholarship, and great devotion. 

The reader must beware of irrelevant considerations in following 
the criticism of Marxian doctrines, (i) The great gifts and services 
of Marx do not guarantee the soundness of his economic and ethical 
theories. (2) Marxian conclusions must not be embraced without 
understanding and acceptance of their economic basis. (3) The 
shortcomings of the Christian Church in the social sphere do not 
affect the duty of Christians to criticize proposals antagonistic to 
their Faith. 

The labour value theory has been rendered untenable by the attempts 
of Marx to safeguard it. The effect of the three qualifications made 
by Marx exposed. Fatal effect of the destruction of this theory in 
undermining the Marxian position. The theory of the rate of profit 
examined. Labour-value has no real existence. The Marxist's 
" alleged solution administers a death-blow." 

History has not verified the Marxian analysis notably with refer- 
ence to the doctrine of increasing misery. Neo-Marxist interpretations 
of this doctrine beside the point. The abolition of the wage-system. 
The system not the one prime cause of the evils of industrialism 
despite the spiritual defects which it exhibits. Its obsolescence 
suggested. 

The doctrine of the class war is (i.) inconsistent in statement ; (ii.) an 
inaccurate account of contemporary alignments ; (iii.) abhorrent to 
Christian morality. 



THE FAILURE OF MARXISM 187 

(i.) The proletariat is alternately stated to include " all wage- 
labourers " and " the lowest stratum of society " definitions mutually 
exclusive. Marxists' efforts to escape the dilemma are either honest but 
futile, or effective but vicious reasons for this explained, (ii.) The 
class conflict between employer and employed, however bitter, is but 
one amongst a number, (iii.) The class war can only be made effective 
by inciting men to envy, revenge, and covetousness. Christians 
cannot look to God's Kingdom being built with the works of the 
Devil. 

The materialistic conception of history is dangerous to those who 
embrace it in (i.) inoculating them with a deadening fatalism ; 
(ii.) fixing their attention entirely on destruction. Moreover, the 
Christian must further object that the doctrine is metaphysically 
and ethically incompatible with his Faith. Grounds for this 
objection explained. 

The persistence of Marxism, despite its errors and fallacies, due 
(i.) to the half-truths which it embodies ; (ii.) its moral baseness. 
Marxism was given to the world at a time when the working-classes 
already held most of the theories it contained : it crystallized them 
into a tradition which now persists as such. The class-war doctrine, 
moreover, which is the heart of Marxism, makes a permanent appeal 
to the lower nature of men whose social conditions subject them to 
such a temptation. It is for the Christian to show them " a more 
excellent way." 



188 THE FAILURE OF MARXISM 



CHAPTER VIII 
THE FAILURE OF MARXISM 

SEVENTY-FIVE years ago a new revolutionary creed was 
proclaimed, as " already acknowledged by all European 
Powers to be itself a power." * In 1847 the statement may 
have been flamboyant hyperbole, but it is literal truth in 
1922. For the new creed was Marxism, and Marxism to-day 
is a world power. 

Marxism rules a great European nation, while every other 
industrial country has seen its government overturned, or 
threatened by disciples of the creed. To the Christian sociolo- 
gist such a spectacle is of evil omen. For the progress of 
Marzism betokens to him the advance of an alien force, which 
must be driven from the territory it now occupies before 
the work of building a Christian industrial society can be 
begun. An examination of the principles of Marxism, in 
the light of economic fact and of Christian ethics reveals the 
reasons for such an attitude. 

It is first, however, necessary to determine what are the 
leading ideas of Marxism. There is a general agreement 
that they embody three major theories : the law of capitalist 
accumulation* the class war, and the materialistic conception 

1 Marx and Engels, Communist Manifesto. Introduction. 

1 Marxist terminology is used throughout this discussion, excepting 
where it is too highly technical for a general treatment of this sort. 
The reader who finds it difficult may familiarize himself with it by 
turning to the Communist Manifesto and the English translation of 
Das Kapital. 



THE FAILURE OF MARXISM 189 

of history. 1 A fourth feature, the dictatorship of the prole- 
tariat, is generally considered a Marxian doctrine, although 
many Marxists of the better sort humanly speaking 
repudiate it. 

It is possible here to give only the briefest outline of these 
theories. The law of capitalist accumulation centres round 
the labour value concept, which holds that " the magnitude 
of the value of any article " is determined by " the amount 
of labour socially necessary for its production, under normal 
conditions of production and with the average degree of skill 
and intensity prevalent at the time." 2 The unit by which 
labour is measured is " simple abstract human labour," to 
which various degrees of skilled labour are reduced by a 
" social process that goes on behind the backs of the producers 
and consequently appears to be fixed by custom." Value, 
in the sense here used, is exchange value ; use value being 
assumed throughout the Marxian value analysis. The theory 
goes on to state that the value of labour as a commodity 
that is, wages also equals the amount of labour necessary 
for its production, to wit, the duration of labour necessary 
to produce the food, clothing, shelter, and the like, necessary 
to support the worker and his offspring, but that the number 
of hours' labour necessary to compensate the employer for 
the worker's wages are less than the number of hours actually 
worked ; so that the capitalist-employer absorbs the surplus 
value created by this extra, unpaid-for labour. Rent, 
interest, and profit are all regarded merely as different forms 

1 Beer's rendering of the German Geschichtsauffassung is preferred 
here to the more common translation " interpretation of history." 
Beer, History of British Socialism, vol. ii. p. 202. 

1 Marx, Das Kapital, vol. i. part i, chap. i. pp. 6-12, and vol. i. 
part 3, chap. vii. sec. 2, pp. 166-180. Quotations and page refer- 
ences are from the Swann, Sonnenschein English translation for vol. i. 
from the Kerr American translation for vol. iii. 



190 THE FAILURE OF MARXISM 

assumed by the surplus value squeezed out of wage-labour 
in this way. Indeed, capital itself is held to be accumulated 
mainly from the same source. 1 

The Marxist concludes from this theory of capitalist 
accumulation that the root source of existing social injustices 
is the economic exploitation of the worker through the wage- 
system. Accordingly, he advocates, as the basic and impera- 
tive remedy for these injustices, the abolition of the wage- 
system. 

Among several important corollaries of this theory two are 
of particular importance. They are the theories of the rate of 
profit, and of increasing misery. 

The theory of the rate of profit is related to the concept 
of surplus value. It follows from that theory that the rate 
of surplus value yielded on any enterprise, relative to the 
total capital invested in it, varies directly as the proportion 
of that capital which is spent on wages. That is, since 
surplus- value is believed to be returned only through exploited 
wage-labour, the larger the portion of any investment which 
is put into wages, the higher the rate of surplus- value secured 
from that investment. Yet the rate of profit, by which 
Marx means the rate of return actually secured on capital 
in the business world, does not vary in this way. In fact, 
due allowance being made for risk, luck, monopoly, and the 
like, the rate of return varies little on different investments. 
The " bourgeoisie " economist calls this practically uniform 
yield " pure interest." The Marxist calls it the rate of 
profit. The Marxist now has to explain the discrepancy 
between the rate of surplus-value, which, according to his 
previous analysis, should vary according to the constitution 
of the capital in each investment, and the rate of profit, which, 
as he himself perceives, varies hardly at all. The explanation 
offered by Marx is that competition among capitalists forces 

1 Marx, Misdre de la Philosophe, chapter i, section 2, Kerr trans- 
lation, p. 55. Das Kapital, loc. cit. 



THE FAILURE OF MARXISM 191 

the rate of profit actually received by them to a uniform level, 
equal to the average of the surplus-values extracted from 
their various enterprises. Marx goes on to say that the 
prices of goods are adjusted so as to make this uniform profit 
possible, the price in any article being higher or lower than 
the labour- value embodied in it, according as competition adds 
to or subtracts from the surplus-value accruing from the 
article. The theory states, further, that the only case in 
which labour-value and surplus-value really appear is in the 
total value of all the goods produced in a given competitive 
area. 1 

The theory of increasing misery can best be set forth in 
the words of Marx's famous summary : " Along with the 
constantly diminishing number of the magnates of capital, 
who usurp and monopolize all advantages of this process 
of transformation, grows the mass of oppression, slavery, 
degradation." The downfall of capitalism is to result from 
this progressive impoverishment of labour. " The monopoly 
of capital becomes a fetter upon the mode of production 
itself. This integument is burst asunder. The knell of 
capitalist private property sounds. The expropriators are 
expropriated." 3 

The second chief feature of Marxism is the class-war. The 
Marxist declares that the capitalist class, which lives and 
moves and has its being by robbing the working-class, is 
in deadly conflict with it, and that the struggle between 
exploiter and exploited, or bourgeoisie and proletariat, has 

1 An admirable brief statement of this portion of Marxism is in 
Beer, op. cit. p. 210. Cf. also Marx, op. cit. vol. i. part iii. chap. ix. 
sec. 2, pp. 197-201 ; chap xi. pp. 289-294, vol. iii. parts i. and ii. ; 
especially chap. ix. pp. 182-203. 

1 Marx, op. cit. vol. i. part iii. chap, xxxii. pp. 788-789. Cf. also 
Marx and Engels, op. cit., close of sec. i : " The modern labourer, 
instead of rising with the progress of industry, sinks deeper and deeper 
below the conditions of existence of his own class. He becomes a 
pauper, and pauperism develops more rapidly than population and 
wealth." 



192 THE FAILURE OF MARXISM 

been so bitter and continuous as to have been the moving 
force of all history since the industrial revolution. And, 
as has already been seen, the Marxist expects the class- 
war to overthrow capitalism, after the proletariat has been 
goaded to desperation by its increasing misery. 1 

The class-war finds its philosophical setting in the material- 
istic conception of history, as its economic foundation is 
furnished by the law of capitalist accumulation. According 
to the materialistic conception of history, " the mode of 
production in material life determines the general character 
of the social, political, and spiritual development of life." From 
this it is concluded that all changes in the " legal, political, 
religious, aesthetic, or philosophical ideas of men are merely 
ideological forms " of the impression made on their minds by 
the struggles attending transformations in the " economic 
foundations " of life. 2 The inevitability of the overthrow 
of capitalist production, once technical progress reaches a 
certain point, is one of the important deductions of this 
theory. 

The doctrine of the dictatorship of the proletariat is in 
reality an element of the class-war theory. No separate 
discussion of it is, therefore, necessary, especially as it is 
taken up elsewhere.3 Whatever is said hereafter regarding 
the class-war may be taken as having force also with reference 
to the theory of the proletarian dictatorship. It should 
be noted that this further examination will refer primarily 
to the class-war and only incidentally to the other ; so that 
those readers who refuse to count the dictatorship of the 
proletariat as a Marxian doctrine, will find this examination 

1 The Communist Manifesto is, of course, the very embodiment 
of the class-war. Cf. also De Leon's " Preamble " to the original 
I.W.W. " Platform." 

Marx, Zur Kritik der Politischen Oekonomie, Preface. Cf. also 
Marx and Engels, op. cit. sec. 2, and Marx, Das Kapital, Preface to 
second edition. 

3 See above, chap, i, sec. 5. 



THE FAILURE OF MARXISM 193 

germane to their construction of the theory. 1 The criticism 
of the doctrine just sketched may now be undertaken. 

It should be said, first of all, that much of the work of 
Karl Marx is of permanent and priceless value to the advance- 
ment of social righteousness. He rendered at least three 
great services. First, he dealt a death-blow to old-school 
economics. He " showed up " the callousness with which 
at least some of its emyove? regarded labour, and he demon- 
strated, partly in his own despite, many of their fallacies. Karl 
Marx jolted political economy out of its bland optimism, and, 
largely as a result, the political economists are now devoting 
as they should an increasing amount of thought to the 
human factor in economic relationships. Again, Marx 
formulated theories of profound importance, even though 
not of the degree and kind of significance which he himself 
assigned to them. In the criticism that follows, attention 
will be called to the fallacies inherent in such Marxian doctrines 
as the class-war, the increasing misery of the working-classes, 
the exploitation theory of wages, and the materialistic 
conception of history. Yet, for all the inaccuracies involved 
in their statement, there is an important element of truth 
in each of them. Marx's insight in perceiving these tendencies 
is to be acknowledged even though his distortion and over- 
emphasis of them must be pointed out. Finally, and 
most important of all, Marx brought to the cause to which 
he gave his life, immense learning, a brilliant mind, and 

1 The case against the inclusion of the doctrine in Marxism may 
be found in Kautsky, The Dictatorship of the Proletariat, and Mueller, 
Karl Marx und die Gewerkschaften. For a collection of quotations 
tending to the opposite viewpoint, cf. Beer, Karl Marx sein Leben 
und sein Lehren, pp. 77-78, and Simkhovitch, Die Krisis der Social- 
democratie, in Conrad's Jahrbuecher, vol. vii. 1899. Cf. also Marx 
and Engels, op. cit. sec. 2 ; and Postgate, The Bolshevik Theory, 
pp. 83-85. Marx used the phrase " revolutionary dictatorship of 
the proletariat " in his letter criticizing the Gotha programme (Kritik 
des Gothaer Programs). 

13 



194 THE FAILURE OF MARXISM 

devoted assiduity. Marx was the first, and probably the 
greatest, of a line of men who have given the labour movement 
historical perspective, scientific data, and trained thinking 
all of them invaluable. There is an element of tragedy 
in the fact that most of the " orthodox " Marxists have 
become so dogmatically attached to the tenets of Marx as 
to have refused to emulate what is probably his greatest 
contribution : the application of scholarly method and careful 
thinking to the problems of industrialism ; while one who 
has possibly, more than any other single man, been true to 
this, the most valuable feature of Marx's work, has been 
branded as a " traitor " by the sectaries of the Marxian 
formulas. 1 

Before criticism of Marxian doctrines can proceed, moreover, 
the reader is asked not to allow himself to be so swayed by 
certain considerations, essentially irrelevant, as not to give 
adequate attention to the main course of the discussion. 
There are three particular points at which the reader may 
be sent off at a tangent from the central line of argument, 
and from which he should be warned. 

The first has to do with the attitude of the essay towards 
Karl Marx. Many persons, who hold and rightly that 
Karl Marx is entitled to respect not to say reverence, become 
so highly offended at any attack upon his economic and 
philosophical system particularly one couched in as vigorous 
terms as is this one as to make them almost incapable of 
reading, let alone of passing judgment upon it. To such a 
reader it should be said that there is no intention here of 
casting mud at the tomb of Karl Marx. He was a noble 
world-patriot and a brilliant thinker. His leadership was 
invaluable at a time when tfre European labour movement 
sadly needed the courage, devotion, and intellect he freely 

1 The reference is to Eduard Bernstein. It is not without signi- 
ficance that one of the most sympathetic appreciations of Marx yet 
written appears in Bernstein's My Years in Exile. 



THE FAILURE OF MARXISM 195 

i gave to it. Yet all of these considerations have nothing to 
do with the final soundness of his economic and ethical theories. 
They must be examined, accepted, or rejected on their own 
merits ; they must shine by their own lustre, not by the 
reflection from their author's halo. Marxism must be studied 
irrespective of the virtues of its founder. Otherwise it 
becomes not an intellectual system but a sectarian dogma. 
John Calvin may have been a hero and a saint, but there 
is nothing sacrosanct about Calvinism. 

A second sort of objection to the criticism which follows 
may be taken by the reader who can be called the " non- 
economic Marxist." He has accepted the economics of Marx 
largely on faith. The main conclusions of Marxism seem 
to him plausible and relatively simple ; they may be assimi- 
lated and acted upon with little reference to the abstract 
theorizing which he finds difficult and distasteful. He prefers, 
instead, to build from it to whatever particular proposal he 
has to make. William Morris seems to have been of this 
type. To such a man the economic discussion that follows 
will be deadly dull and irritating. Accordingly, he may im- 
patiently thrust this analysis aside as not worth the trouble 
necessary to its understanding, and continue contentedly 
adhering to an economic creed which offers the supreme 
advantage of being easily comprehended. To him it must 
be said that error has always been easier to grasp than sound 
doctrine, and that the road to understanding is always a 
difficult one. Marxism is speciously plausible and inaccurately 
simple. As will be shown later, its false simplicity is one of 
its cardinal faults. And the reader cannot, in justice to his 
own intellectual integrity, consent to give Marxism his 
allegiance simply because he will not take the trouble to 
examine systematically either its basic assumptions or its 
logical implications. It should be added that he may dis- 
cover, after all, that the ideas which he now bases upon Marxism 
may not necessarily have to be founded on that dogma at 



196 THE FAILURE OF MARXISM 

all. Here again reference may be made to William Morris. 
His theories maintain their vitality entirely irrespective 
of their supposed relationship to Marxian economics ; in 
fact, the book in which he collaborated with Mr. Bax to 
attempt the establishment of such a relationship is probably 
the least read of all his works. 

A third type of reader will take violent offence at the 
other main element of criticism contained in this essay 
namely, the attack on Marxism from the viewpoint of 
Christian ethics. He will, with entire justice, maintain that 
the Christian Church has all too long acquiesced in a society 
that has produced the class hatred to which this essay takes 
objection. The Church has smugly ignored, or pusillanimously 
abetted the stupid and wicked repression of human person- 
ality that has characterized modern industrial life. She has 
failed to bear witness to the meaning of her gospel for millions 
of sweated toilers. Such a person feels, therefore, that the 
Church has lost her right to criticize the unchristian nature 
of the philosophy of hate which inspires Marxism, inasmuch 
as she has failed to protest against the conditions out of 
which that hate has grown. His position is untenable. It 
amounts to demanding of the Church that she fail to bear 
witness to her message in the future, because she has failed 
to do so in the past. The Christian Gospel of righteousness 
is eternally valid, and the Christian sociologist must be true 
to that Gospel, even though he may be wearing sack-cloth 
and ashes for the disloyalty to it of the Church to which he 
owes allegiance. Fully acknowledging the sinfulness of the 
conditions out of which class antagonisms have arisen, he 
mu^t still assert the sinfulness of an intellectual system even 
though it is propounded on behalf of the oppressed classes 
which perpetuates and embitters such antagonisms. 

The law of capitalist accumulation supplies the economic 
foundation for Marxism, and a very poor foundation it is. 



THE FAILURE OF MARXISM 197 

It rests upon the labour value theory already outlined. 
And this theory has suffered the strange fate of having been 
rendered entirely untenable by the attempts of Marx to 
safeguard it. Marx was too good a thinker not to see that a 
crude, unqualified labour theory of value could not hold 
together. The concept is consequently modified in three 
respects : first, by admitting the presence of use-value, 
or, in current terms, utility, in articles of value ; second, 
by allowing only " socially necessary labour " to be used as 
a source and measure of value ; third, by reducing various 
degrees of skill to "simple" labour, through a "social 
process." l 

The first qualification is damaging to the theory ; the next 
two are destructive of it. If it is once granted that use- 
value must be present in an article, but is nevertheless main- 
tained that duration of labour is the real indicator of value, 
then the " utility " theorist can equally well admit that 
labour may have to be present in such an article but main- 
tain that use-value is the real source and measure of value. 
Furthermore, once it is admitted that other qualities embodied 
in an article besides the labour involved in its manufacture 
are necessary to its value, then the labour- value theorem breaks 
down ; for unless such a theory can hold that duration of 
labour provides the sole and only determinant of value, it is 
not a theory of value at all, but simply a one-sided statement 
of the fact that certain constituents, including labour, enter 
into the fixing of value. 

The stipulations as to " socially necessary labour " and 
the equation of different degrees of skill by a " social process " 
provide the final coup de main for the theory. They both 
have the same import. The first is made to meet the obvious 

1 The writer makes no claim to any originality in the criticisms 
of Marxist economics here advanced. They were most of them made 
a generation ago. The recrudescence of unmodified Marxian economics 
at the present time, however, makes it plain that these criticisms 
want repeating, 



198 THE FAILURE OF MARXISM 

objection that, if only duration of labour fixes value, then 
the longer it takes to make an article the more valuable it 
will be ; so that the enterprising manufacturer will hire all 
the lazy, crippled, and awkward working-men in the country, 
in order to capitalize their ineptitude into huge sums of 
surplus-value. The reply that only " socially necessary " 
labour, " average degrees of skill," and the like are counted 
into value, raises the further question as to where and how 
these are fixed. The answer is plain : they are fixed in the 
market, where the pull of economic forces, in the process 
of fixing values of all sorts, also adjusts the relative 
estimation of different degrees of skill, industry, and 
the like. That is to say, the labour used by Marx to 
measure value is that labour whose value has already been 
fixed. 

A clearer case of circular reasoning occurs in the next 
modification of the theory. Here Marx is confronted with 
the necessity of determining which among countless gradations 
of skill in labour shall be used as a unit for measuring labour 
how, that is, the labour of the Amsterdam diamond cutter 
can be compared with the labour of the South African " black 
boy," who mines the diamonds. Marx's answer that they 
are all equated in terms of " simple " labour by a " social 
process " is simply a roundabout way of saying they are 
given different valuations in the market. The " social 
process " does not " go on behind the backs of the producers " ; 
it is part and parcel of their economic activities. A man must 
be an orthodox Marxist before the activities fixing market 
values can go on behind his back ! The statement comes to 
this : the unit of " simple labour " by which value is 
measured is the result of the scale of values fixed in the 
market ; exchange-value is measured in terms of a unit that 
is itself measured in terms of the exchange-values set in the 
market : exchange-value is measured in terms of exchange- 
value. The circle is complete. 



THE FAILURE OF MARXISM 199 

The labour theory of value having been killed, the entire 
theoretical structure of Marxism dies with it. No 
labour-value, no surplus-value ; no surplus-value, no 
exploitation ; no exploitation, no class-war ; in short, no 
Marxism. 

The foregoing criticism of Marxism economics has been so 
compressed that it may not seem entirely conclusive. Those 
who are still convinced that " there must be something in 
it " may get further light by considering the theory of the 
rate of profit. The reasoning by which Marx attempts in 
this instance to square his theory of surplus-value with 
the facts amounts to a denial of the validity of the entire 
Marxian analysis. 

It will be borne in mind that value, according to the Marxian 
definition, is exchange-value. Now, unless exchange-value 
means the actual relation in which goods are bought and sold 
for one another, allowing for minor fluctuations, it means 
nothing, and any attempt to discuss value, in the Marxian 
sense, without giving it such a meaning is tantamount to a 
giving up of the theory. Yet this is precisely what Marx does 
in his attempt to account for the uniform rate of profit. 
He solves the contradiction between this rate, and the variable 
rate of surplus-value demanded by his theory of labour value 
by boldly declaring that labour-value has no part in the 
prices of goods, that is, in their actual exchange relations. 
Nor are the prices to which he refers abnormal, momentary 
fluctuations from a normal exchange relation. They are 
the normal exchange ratio, for they are bound up with the 
uniform profit. Thus, according to Marx, labour-value, 
which is the exchange relation of goods, has no place in the 
normal and actual exchange of goods ; that is, labour-value 
has no real existence. 

" Aha ! " the Marxist may exclaim, " you forget that the 
theory expressly states that labour-value and surplus-value 
do have tangible existence. They appear in the total value 






200 THE FAILURE OF MARXISM 

of all the goods in any market and from them are derived 
the average rate of profit, upon which, accordingly, their 
market prices depend. The labour theory of value has not 
been given up ; it has been merely elaborated to fit the com- 
plexities of modern economic organization." Just so. But 
in so far as the explanation is true, it means nothing ; and in 
so far as it means anything, it is mere unsupported statement. 
It is perfectly true that the value in exchange of all the goods 
in a market equals the sum of their respective prices, but 
this tells us nothing about the source or distribution of the 
separate values. The fact that the age of two men together 
equals seventy-five years tells us just nothing about the age 
of either. 

If this statement is to be of any account as an explanation 
of value, it must mean that the sum total of values in the 
market equals the sum total of labour-time represented by 
the goods in the market. And here the theory comes right 
back to its original position of taking one of a number of 
constituent elements in the value of goods and saying that 
it is the sole source of value with this added difference, 
that the original statement of the theory attempted to 
adduce verification from economic experience, whereas this 
proposition is expressly cut off from any reference to actualities, 
is in fact a sheer speculation. It might just as reasonably 
assert that the value of all the goods in the market equals 
their total radio-activity, or their total cubical content. 
If the explanation of the rate of profit is a recantation of all 
that precedes it, the attempt to justify the explanation is 
simply so much solemn nonsense. " Thus, far from effecting 
the solution of the threatened doctrine, this alleged solution 
administers a death-blow, and implies the categorical negation 
of what it proposes to support." 

1 Loria, Karl Marx, Allen and Unwin translation, p. 78. Loria, 
be it noted, is a sufficiently devoted follower of Marx to have been 
brought out in English by Eden and Cedar Paul. 



THE FAILURE OF MARXISM 201 

The Marxist may still return to the attack. " I don't care 
a tin whistle for your economic theorizing. What I depend 
upon is reality. Many a great truth has been put in 
logically defective form, but the truth has withstood 
its imperfect statement. As a description of capitalist 
production, Marx's is unimpeachable. History has proven 
his analysis to be the right one." Very well, let history 
speak. 

If the predictions of Marxism have been fulfilled, then it 
still deserves respect. Yet it is so abundantly clear that 
history has not borne out Marx's prophecies that the more 
honest Marxists have been forced to revise their theories, 
until one doubts whether they can be called Marxists at all. 
There is no intention to repeat here the detailed statistical 
and historical data which the " revisionists " have compiled 
to prove the non-fulfilment of Marxian forecasts. 1 One of 
the predictions may, however, be briefly examined in the 
light of historical fact. The theory of increasing misery is 
one of the most striking and important of them. Not only 
is the ultimate debdcle of capitalism contingent upon it, but 
it epitomizes the entire Marxist law of capitalist accumulation. 
Yet if any fact of recent social history is well established, it is 
that the wage-earner, far from sinking " deeper and deeper 
below the conditions of existence of his own class," has main- 
tained his position, and, in addition, made a very consider- 
able advance. Statistics of real and money wages, of pauperism, 
of tax returns, studies of family budgets every scientific 
device for gauging the economic status of the working-class 
tells the same story. The working-man is not worse off than 
he was in 1860 ; he is a great deal better off. There has 
been a set-back for some sections of the population since 
1914, but even the most enthusiastic pessimist will not seriously 
maintain that any appreciable portion has been reduced to 

1 Especially Bernstein, Evolutionary Socialism; Simkhovitch , 
Marxism versus Socialism. 



202 THE FAILURE OF MARXISM 

the conditions which were general in 1860. r Neither has 
the concentration of the ownership of wealth proceeded 
according to plan. On the contrary, thanks to the develop- 
ment of savings banks and the investment market, the owner- 
ship of industrial capital is more widely diffused than ever 
before. 

Here the Marxist retorts, " Yes, but the relative difference 
between rich and poor is greater than it was ; the working- 
class is proportionately worse off than before, if not actually 
poorer. As for concentration of capital, it is control that 
counts, and dare you say that, through trusts and banking 
cliques, control of industry is not becoming more centralized 
every day? " 2 Possibly ; it is a matter of complete indif- 
ference to this discussion. Marx had nothing to say about 
the relative, but the actual condition of the proletariat. It was 
to sink " below the conditions of existence " ; capitalism was 
specifically charged with being unable to maintain its own 
labour force. 3 And capital was to be " monopolized," definitely, 
physically owned by a few " magnates," not merely manipu- 
lated by them. 4 Any other prediction was meaningless 
either as a deduction from the law of capitalist accumulation, 

The presence of famine in portions of Europe has nothing to 
do with the case. The misery which Marx predicted was not to 
come about by war capitalist or otherwise, but was to accompany 
the normal, peaceful progress of capitalist production. 

1 Thus Loria, op. cit. pp. 67-69 ; Postgate, op. cit. pp. 30-33. 

8 " It is unfit to rule because it is incompetent to assure an existence 
to its slave within his slavery." Marx and Engels, op. cit. close of 
sec. 2. If the statement had read " unable to assure a proper exist- 
ence . . ."it would, of course, be unobjectionable to-day. It is not 
to be denied that the worker's standard of life is lower than it should 
be or might be, but Marx is talking not in terms of a proper standard 
of life, but of physical existence. 

4 This is not to say that the public control, or even dissolution of 
monopolies and financial oligarchies, is not of primary importance. 
It must be insisted, however, that centralized control of a few key 
industries was not what Marx predicted. He thought that all owner- 
ship of all productive instruments would pass into a few hands. 



THE FAILURE OF MARXISM 203 

or as a precedent condition to the proletarian revolution 
The upsetting of the prediction cannot be explained away 
by substituting for it one which Marx did not and could not 
logically make. The prophecy has failed, and its failure gives 
the lie, finally and conclusively, to the economic theories of 
Marxism. 

Let it be kept in mind that there is no idea here to hold 
a brief for the present industrial structure. It has its faults 
in plenty, else this book had not been written. Nor is there 
any intention of conveying the impression that labour is well 
off, or even is as well off as before 1914, but merely that it is 
better off than in 1860. Neither is there any desire to credit 
the blind workings of the system with the advances that labour 
has made. Trade-union and Government action have un- 
doubtedly played a part of major importance although Marx 
denied to trade-unions any lasting value in advancing the 
worker's status. Finally, as has just been said, there is no 
idea of ignoring the fact that the control of industry is becoming 
ever more restricted, partly through the machinery of inter- 
locking directorates, holding companies, trade associations, 
and other familiar phenomena of corporation finance ; 
partly through the growing industrial hegemony of the 
banker. All this may be true. But it has nothing to do with 
the truth or falsity of Marxian economics. It is not enough 
to say that developments have been " something like " 
what Marx predicted, any more than it would be proper to 
praise a doctor for diagnosing a benignant tumour as a 
cancer. One is " something like the other," but the difference 
is that between life and death. And there is a life and death 
difference between Marx's predictions and the facts of industrial 
development, at least, so far as his own theory is concerned. 
For it is necessary to the validating of his theory that his 
predictions should come true literally and completely. Only 
if so carried out are they of value as verifications of his 
economic theories. Those theories led Marx to the clear- 



204 THE FAILURE OF MARXISM 

cut conclusion that the worker by hand and by brain would 
become progressively poorer while the capitalists were seizing 
more and more of the world's wealth and themselves growing 
fewer and fewer in number. Unless this has happened 
just this, and not " something like it " his economic theories 
are belied by the facts. 

Finally, it must be remembered that the inquiry into the 
truth or falsity of Marx's prediction has not been undertaken 
on its own account, but because of its relation to the general 
question of the economic basis for the Marxian revolutionary 
theory. This theory demands the overthrow of the wage- 
system, as the inevitable and solely sufficient objective of 
the revolution. It does so because it concludes in the 
picturesque language of a great American Marxist that 
" the worker is skinned at the point of production out of all 
but hib bare necessities." If this is true if it is an indubitable 
scientific fact that every wage-payment necessarily involves 
the " skinning " of the worker, then the thing to do is to 
smash the present economic structure, and the wage-system 
with it. But it is not a fact that the payment of wages inevit- 
ably involves the yielding of surplus-value to the employer ; 
and the economic ills of the present industrial order can not 
be infallibly cured by the simple process of destroying the 
wage-system. 

Let it be repeated, there are plenty of things the matter 
with the wage-system, or more precisely, perhaps, with 
the wage-relation. As the National Guildsmen have made 
abundantly clear, it involves a debased status, a non-participa- 
tion in control, and a soul-destroying passivity incompatible 
with the Gospel of Him who came that humanity might 
have life, and have it more abundantly. Further, it is 
possible as Messrs. Douglas and Orage have concluded, that 
wages, like any form of wealth distribution based on 
specific productivity, have been rendered obsolete by the 
complexities of modern industry, and by the growing pre- 



THE FAILURE OF MARXISM 205 

ponderance of non-human forms of energy. But the demand 
for the drastic alteration, or possibly the abolition, of the 
wage-system on grounds such as these is a totally different 
matter from the Marxian proposal for its supersession. The 
one sees in the wage-system a symptom of deep-lying 
economic, psychological, and spiritual disorders, and seeks 
the modification of that system as an incident in more far- 
reaching re-adjustments. The other, that is the Marxian 
proposal, fixes on the wage-system as the one prime cause 
of the evils of industrialism, and its overthrow as the one 
thing needful for their remedy. 1 

Once the law of capitalist accumulation is shown to be 
untenable, the scientific basis for class-war also ceases to 
exist. Yet the doctrine is held by many, irrespective of its 
economic foundation, if not in spite of it. 

The Marxist who holds such a position deserves a special 
word. His position is an impossible one, for he accepts 
the conclusions based upon premises which he rejects. He 
thereby lays himself open to the criticism of being either 
hopelessly muddle-headed, or of being willing to advocate 
a set of doctrines whose truth he only half believes, but which 
he continues to preach because of their propaganda value. 
And there is evidence that the more thoughtful Marxists 
are beginning to realize their plight. 

Yet the Marxist may indignantly deny being either muddled 
or disingenuous. 3 He may stoutly declare, " I don't care a 



1 It may be further pointed out that the Douglas-Orage denial 
of the theory of specific productivity carries with it a categorical 
negation of the Marxian theorem. Cf. Douglas and Orage, Credit- 
Power and Democracy, London, 1920, chapter i. 

> Eden and Cedar Paul, Foreword to Allen and Unwin translation 
of Loria, Karl Marx, p. 28. Beer, Karl Marx, sein Leben und sein 
Lehrea, pp. 111-113. Herr Beer displays praiseworthy frankness. 
After declaring that the theories of value and surplus-value are the 
" battle-cry of the proletariat against thbourgeois ie," he calls them 
" theoretical fiction." 



206 THE FAILURE OF MARXISM 

snap of the fingers whether my belief in the class- war is based 
on good economics or not. It is a fact, a horrid, ugly fact. 
And those of us who have any regard for the common man had 
better leave off prating about theories and jump in to help 
him loose once-for-all the capitalist's death-grip on his 
throat. After all, the class- war is the heart and soul of 
Marxism." In this last statement, at least, he is entirely 
correct. Marxism is, primarily, a systematic apologia for the 
class-war. But what of the class-war ? 

The doctrine is, in the first place, inconsistent in state- 
ment ; it is, further, an inaccurate account of contemporary 
class alignments ; and, finally, it is abhorrent to Christian 
morality. 

The formal difficulty relates to the nature of the parties 
involved in the class-conflict. The capitalist, or bourgeois 
class is fairly obvious so far as Marxism goes. It is " the 
class of modern Capitalists, owners of the means of social 
production and employers of wage labour." The proletariat 
is not, however, so easily identified. 

The Communist Manifesto I formally defines it as " the 
class of modern wage-labourers who, having no means of 
production of their own, are reduced to selling their labour 
power in order to live." But, later on it describes the 
proletarian as : " without property ; his relation to his wife 
and children has no longer anything in common with the 
bourgeoisie family relation ; modern industrial labour has 
stripped him of every trace of national character. Law,, 
morality, religion are to him so many bourgeois prejudices." 3 
In other words, the proletariat, according to this account, 
does not include " all wage-labourers," but only those whom 
the same document calls later " the lowest stratum of society." 
Now, the proletariat cannot be two things at once. It 
cannot contain all those who sell their labour-power skilled, 

Marx and Engels, op, cit. section i (footnote). 
Marx and Engels, op. cit. close of section i. 



THE FAILURE OF MARXISM 207 

unskilled, managerial, clerical, and manual and at the 
same time be so poverty-stricken as to be beneath hope 
of family life and morality and religion bourgeois or 
otherwise. 

The difficulty can be explained, but not solved. The 
first definition fits into the Marxian economic theories ; 
while the second accords with the facts. If only the economic 
theory would " work out " as the doctrine of increasing misery 
predicts that it should, there would be no contradiction, for 
all of those who sell their labour-power would have sunk, 
long since, into the wretched resourcelessness envisaged by 
the second definition. But, unfortunately for the theory, 
large numbers of wage and salary earners perversely refuse 
to be dragged into the depths of misery, and even receive 
recruits from the depths below. The class-war theory is 
inconsistent, because stubborn fact refuses to conform 
to Marx's dark-hued prophecies as to the future of the 
working-classes. 

The Marxists can meet the dilemma in either of two ways. 
The first is honest but futile : the second is more or less 
effective but vicious. The first measure is to tell the better- 
paid worker that he ought to feel as badly off as his brother 
in the slums, that he really is a poor, down-trodden wage- 
slave, and that he should at once cast in his lot with his 
humbler brother. Such exhortations must always fail 
miserably. Whatever hope there may be of bringing the 
residents of St. John's Wood and Poplar together on the 
basis of their common faith or their common citizenship, 
they will never be united on the basis of their common economic 
status, because it does not exist. 

On the other hand, the Marxist of the more practical sort 
perceives the hopelessness of any real organizing of the 
" salariat " for the purpose of the class- war, and more or 
less deliberately turns his attention to the proletariat of 
" the lowest stratum." That is, he respects Marx the pro- 



208 

pagandist, more than Marx the theorist, and seeks to recruit 
for the class-war the wretched and the hungry and the 
hopeless. It is the kind of tactics popular among those 
Marxists who pride themselves upon being " realists " and 
genuine dyed-in-the-wool " revolutionaries." And if revolu- 
tion consists in kicking up a really terrible rumpus, it is 
very good tactics. Indeed, results of a sort generally 
have been obtained, since the days of Tiberius Gracchus, 
from an invitation to the poor for the dispossession of the 
rich. In fact, it will be shown later that just because the 
Marxian class-war doctrine makes such an appeal, it gains 
much of its vitality. Nevertheless, such a class-war, inevit- 
ably carried on by a fraction of those who sell their labour- 
power, cannot by any stretch of the imagination claim to 
be " the movement of the immense majority in the interests 
of the immense majority." When the leaders of a class-war 
of such dimensions attempt to justify its excesses and anomalies 
by pleading the " interests of the immense majority," 
they are talking nonsense. A class-war of this sort is 
carried on in the interests of a minority, irrespective of 
the interests of the majority, and often in opposition to 
them. 

To all of this the " revolutionary " Marxist will probably 
remain impervious. " I am not concerned with consistencies 
or inconsistencies," he says, " and am not at all worried if 
the proletariat is not so all-inclusive as Marx predicted. It 
is sufficiently large to make plenty of trouble for the capitalist 
class. Furthermore, in the sense that the struggle between 
employer and employed is an expression of the class-war, 
it is the biggest social fact in contemporary civilization. 
The one great social cleavage to-day is that of labour versus 
capital." The only trouble with this statement is that it 
isn't so. 

There is no need to preach " industrial pacifism " to 
establish this point. There is plenty of antagonism between 



THE FAILURE OF MARXISM 209 

employer and employed. Generally speaking, their relations 
are those of armed truce, frequently broken by bitter and 
devastating war. But there are other class-conflicts. 1 Here 
in the United States, we can distinguish at least three others, 
one of which leads to frequent disorder and death : white 
versus black, native versus immigrant, 2 city versus country.3 
There is not one class-war, but several, all going on at once, 
each ignoring and occasionally overriding the others. At 
times the struggle between capital and labour dominates ; 
at times other conflicts force it into the background^ and it 
is mere verbal jugglery to call the other struggle a " phase " 
of the capital-labour conflict, because the capitalist takes 
advantage of it. As well say that a wind taken advantage 
of for a gas attack, during the late War, was a " phase " 
of the War ! 

The class-war doctrine fails to square with the facts both 
with respect to the alleged identity of the proletariat with the 
wage and salary-earning class, and with respect to its attempt 
at the resolution of all class conflicts into that between capital 
and labour. 

Yet the Marxist can probably not be budged by considera- 

1 A class is taken here as meaning " a number or body of persons 
with common characteristics, or in like circumstances, or with a 
common purpose." New Standard Dictionary. 

a The persecution of " Bolsheviks " in America during the winter 
1919-1920 was largely an expression of a long-accumulated hostility 
towards " foreigners." The recently-enacted restriction immigration 
law indicates the lengths to which this feeling has gone. 

3 The rurally elected legislature of the State of Connecticut has 
sought to recall the charter of the city of Hartford, because of the 
latter's refusal to abide by an anti-daylight-saving law, passed in 
the interests of the farmers. Hostility between New York city and 
" up-state " legislators in New York state politics is proverbial. Great 
bitterness has been aroused by the recently organized Congressional 
" farmers' bloc." 

4 As in the southern United States, where the " poor white," in 
his hostility for the negro, entirely disregards the identity of economic 
interest, which he and his black fellow-worker have against the land- 
owner and employer. 

14 



210 THE FAILURE OF MARXISM 

tions of this sort from a dogma of such matchless propaganda 
value as the class-war. But the propaganda it spreads is 
the sort which constitutes a negation of Christian morality. 
It rests upon motives incompatible with the Christian ideal. 
In so far as the theory has any practical potency, it preaches 
a war of the poor against the rich ; and, more than this, a 
war in which the poor are urged forward under the lash 
of envy, revenge, and covetousness. It preaches the kind 
of war that is no war, but a jacquerie. 

This is not to say that Christianity cannot countenance 
the taking of strong measures by the community against 
functionless and predatory property, provided such measures 
are undertaken on behalf of the whole community, and in 
the spirit of service to it. But the Christian Faith of love and 
service cannot contemplate with anything but reprobation 
the indiscriminate turning loose upon any class, rich or not, 
of another class, hungering for vengeance and for spoil. 
The responsibility for the causes leading to the existence of 
such passions in the breasts of thousands of God's people is 
beside the point in this connection. It is enough here to 
point out the utter heathenishness of a creed which 
deliberately plays upon those passions. God's Kingdom never 
will be built with the works of the devil. 

The doctrine of the materialistic conception of history 
has met less hostile criticism than the theories of the 
class-war and of capitalist accumulation, largely because 
most anti-socialists have not been themselves altogether 
free from materialism. There are two grounds upon 
which it has been commonly assailed : first, that it 
inoculates the Marxist with a deadening, optimistic 
fatalism ; second, that it fixes his attention entirely on 
destruction. 

In holding that the downfall of capitalism is as inevitable 
as the course of the sun, the materialistic conception of history 



THE FAILURE OF MARXISM 211 

gains in propagandist effect, for it inspires the Marxian 
revolutionary with an apocalyptic zeal. Yet it has a boomerang 
action, for the Marxist may well ask himself whether there 
is, after all, any need to do more than sit and gloat over the 
death agonies of the present order, while waiting for its final 
destruction before the inexorable advance of a new system. 
So it is that many Marxists have not merely refused to ally 
themselves with movements palliative of the present industrial 
regime, but have also withdrawn their badly needed aid from 
all efforts to end the evils of competition, which did not 
happen to proceed according to the precise schedule laid 
down in the pages of Das Kaptial.i Again, the materialistic 
conception of history encourages the Marxist to concentrate 
his attention almost solely on the destructive aspect of social 
change. He has always prided himself on his insistence 
upon the uselessness of " Utopian " planning of a future 
society, whose form remains to be revealed by the inscrutable 
working of economic laws. Such an attitude may have 
had its uses in the days of Owenism and Fourierism. To-day 
it is damnable. It enables the Marxist merrily to go about 
the not uncongenial task of smashing the existing economic 
structure, without a thought of what is to follow, and all the 
time to dignify as " scientific " his policy of sabotaging 
civilization. 

It is for the Christian sociologist, however, to lay down 
the most fundamental objection to this element of the Marxian 
formula. His position must be that of a categorical denial 
of the entire concept. Christianity and the Marxian inter- 
pretation of history are mutually incompatible. To believe 
that " man's ideas, views, and conceptions, in one word, 
man's consciousness, changes with every change in the 

1 For example, the late Daniel de Leon, whose rigid Marxism 
forced him to withdraw his brilliant capacity and devoted courage 
from the American labour movement at a time when it was badly 
in need of both. 



212 

conditions of his material existence, in his social relations 
and in his social life," is to believe something other than 
Christianity. 1 Such a theory not only contradicts the basis 
of Christian faith and of any other spiritual outlook on 
life it advances a thorough-going metaphysic of materialist 
absolutism ; and being nothing but a sweeping speculation, 
it deserves no greater respect at the hands of Christian 
or other thinkers than that given to any piece of ambitious 
and unsubstantial abstraction.* 

The Christian has, however, a more immediate objection 
to Marx's historical materialism than its metaphysics, and 
that is its ethics. A theory which declares that " the mode 
of production in material life determines the general character 
of the social, political, and spiritual processes of life " 3 
amounts to a negation of any permanent moral values. In 
fact, it specifically ridicules religious and moral scruples 
towards its proposals as merely so many " bourgeois objec- 
tions.'^ The practical significance of such a philosophy is 
startling. It is that any means to the proletarian revolution, 
and any conduct during or after it, are subject to no considera- 
tions save those of expediency. It means that the Marxist 
can do no wrong, because there is no right and no wrong. 

It means that the bonds by which custom and religion hold 
men together, and restrain their brute instincts, may be 
lightly broken in the interests of the revolutionary programme. 
Chicane, intrigue, terror, may and do all find justification. 

Together with the doctrine of the class-war, this aspect 
of Marxian materialism presents a sorry prospect for the 
future. The one arouses passions which Christianity has 

1 Marx and Engels, op. tit., section 2. 

* A complete discussion of the shortcomings of the theory as a 
complete philosophy of history may be found in Benedetto Croce, 
Historical Materialism and the Economics of Karl Marx (Macmillan 
translation). Cf. also Earth, Philosophy of History as Sociology. 

3 Marx, Zur Kritik der Politiker Oekonomie, Preface. 

4 Marx and Engels, loc. cii. 



THE FAILURE OF MARXISM 218 

worked long centuries to overcome ; the other invites the 
casting off of any checks on those passions. 

The devoted disciple of Marx may reply : " The criticism 
of Marxism just made must be unfounded, for, otherwise, 
Marxism would have died long since. Must there not be 
something true and great in a theory which has retained its 
vigour undiminished despite a myriad of bitter attacks ? " 
To this it must be replied that Marxism persists despite its 
logical fallacies and its appeal to the baser side of human 
nature, partly because of the half-truths it embodies, but 
mostly just because of its moral baseness. 

Marxism, viewed historically, is little more than a systematic 
and imposingly learned statement of a set of ideas current 
in working-class movements for the past one hundred years, 
and it has received much of its strength because of this fact. 

Most of the major doctrines of Marxism contain half-truths. 
Labour is an important element in value, although not its 
sole determinant. Capital has exploited labour through the 
wage contract, mercilessly and persistently, but there have 
been forms of exploitation of the worker, otherwise than 
through the wage contract, such as through rents, mon- 
opolies, adulterated goods, and jerry-built houses. The war- 
fare between labour and capital has profoundly affected the 
history of the world, since the industrial revolution, but it is 
not the only class-conflict which that era has witnessed, 
and has not always been the most important. 

Nevertheless, to the working-man, wage exploitation, and 
the battle against the employing class have been the most 
obvious forms in which his sufferings and his struggles have 
taken form ; so that he has magnified their importance. 
Naturally, therefore, he has listened gladly to a doctrine that 
has over-emphasized these features. 

As for the theory of labour-value, this was generally 
accepted by " orthodox " economists as well as revolutionists 



214 THE FAILURE OF MARXISM 

at the time the working-class movement began to become 
articulate. 1 Moreover, it has probably been at the back of 
revolutionary ideology for centuries, as a result of the 
teachings of the mediaeval Church. 2 

The Marxian theory of value has therefore merely formu- 
lated what working-men were believing at the time it was first 
propounded, and have mistakenly clung to ever since, while 
the doctrine of the class-struggle draws its vitality from 
psychological rather than historical sources, as has already 
been shown. It may further be pointed out that the first 
collisions of labour against capital occurred at a time when 
an age-long series of conflicts between social classes was 
reaching its climax, and when the economic and social 
alignments were often identical. It has, accordingly, been 
natural for the modern economic struggle to echo the phrases 
and the emotional atmosphere of the earlier social conflicfs, 
and also for the worker to continue to identify all antagonisms 
with economic ones. 

In sum, Marxism was given to the world at a time when 
the working-classes already held most of the theories it 
contained. And it has continued popular because it has 
confirmed their belief in the jumble of fact and fancy found 
in such ideas, rather than attempt the unpopular task of 
telling them the truth.3 

Nevertheless, if these were the only circumstances favour- 
able to the acceptance of the Marxian formulas, one might 
expect their popularity gradually to diminish. The effects 

1 Beer, History of British Socialism, vol. i. part ii. chap, ii, pp. 209- 
234. Cf. also the history and literature of the Chartist period. 

1 O'Brien, Mediaval Economic Teaching, pp. 65-67 ; Ingram, 
History of Political Economy, second edition, p. 27 ; Haney, History 
of Economic Thought, second edition, p. 92. 

3 It may well be asked whether Marx was anything more than 
the exponent of the theories current at his time : a sort of scholastic 
of Chartism. Cf. Beer, op. cit. vol. ii. p. 214, and Karl Marx, sein 
Leben und sein Lehren, p. 34, and Marx's " Speech on Free Trade," 
in Appendix to the Kerr translation of La Misere de la Philosophe. 




THE FAILURE OF MARXISM 215 

of the historical coincidences which made the launching of 
Marxism propitious are fading out ; and the clouds of confused 
thinking in the labour movement are gradually being dispelled. 
Yet Marxism shows few signs of abatement. It has continued 
strong, because the chief source of its vigour has been of a 
sort which social change and intellectual enlightenment 
cannot effect. The principal strength of Marxism has been 
its moral weakness. 

The heart of Marxism is the class-war. 1 The economic 
analysis gives to it an unsubstantial appearance of scientific 
authoritativeness ; the materialistic conception of history 
endows it with an encouraging reassurance of success. But 
they are both subordinate to it. They can be, and have been, 
discredited ; yet the creed of the class-war carries on. 

Why it does so has already been made clear. The class- 
war is an unholy war. Its motives are envy and greed 
and blind revenge. Its weapons are trickery and terror 
and brute force. Its philosophy is the deliberate denial of 
morality. Its objective is mere destruction. 

And all of this appeals to men particularly men hungry and 
hopeless and oppressed by a stupid and heedless governing 
class. It appeals to them because no man God forgive 
him is very far out of the jungle, and because such as they 
especially have been driven back upon their brute selves by 
a society which has persistently thwarted their human 
personality. Treated little better than savages, they have 
heeded the call of the Marxian class-war to act as they 
have been treated, and to rend civilization by a new barbarian 
invasion from out of its own slums. . 

It is for the Christian to show them " a more excellent 
way." It is for him to bring them the aid of all men of good 
will, in making them not less, but more human, that they 
may enter into their inheritance in the Kingdom of God. 

1 As mild a Socialist as John Spargo acknowledges " the class- 
struggle as the central motif of modern Socialism." Spargo, Applied 
Socialism, p. 115. 



THE KINGDOM OF GOD AND THE 
CHURCH TO-DAY 

BY 

FATHER PAUL B. BULL 

Priest of the Community of the Resurrection, Mirfield 
Author of The Sacramental Principle, etc. 



218 THE KINGDOM OF GOD 



SYNOPSIS 

1. The disease of our age is disintegration of human life due to 
organization apart from God. 

2. Synthesis. Christ is the only bond which can bind men together 
as He is the basis of our Humanity. 

3. The Ideal of the Church is not to guarantee salvation, but to 
be God's agent in redemption, to establish God's Kingdom among 
men. 

4. The Church to-day has lost the millions because she has failed 
to sanctify politics and economics through a pietistic and indivi- 
dualistic interpretation of the Gospel. The causes of her failure may 
be summarized under these heads. 

(i.) Idolatry. She has acquiesced in the depersonalization of 
labour and in the unrestrained covetousness which makes an 
Idol of Money. The unjust accumulation of financial power 
cannot be moralized. The official utterances of Church autho- 
rities are admirable theoretically but practically ineffectual. 
The idolatry of property, power, and pleasure makes Christian 
teaching ineffectual. 

(ii.) Sectionalism. The divorce of prayer and worship from 
economic life leaves the greater part of human life unsanctified. 
This applies to nominal Catholicism as well as to Puritanism. 
The making of a soul. This sectionalism is a debasement of 
Catholic ideals, and accounts for the loss of many to the Church. 

(iii.) Selfishness. Atomic personality has disintegrated the 
Fellowship of the Church. 

5. The Remedy is to return to the unity of the Faith as referring 
both the life of the individual and of society to God. Belief in Christ 
alone preserves human values. The Catholic complex of dogma, 
discipline, and devotion alone preserves the social principles of the 
Gospel, Faith, Freedom, and Fellowship. 



AND THE CHURCH TO-DAY 219 



CHAPTER IX 

THE KINGDOM OF GOD AND THE CHURCH 
TO-DAY 

THE preceding essays of this volume have shown by searching 
criticism that the present organization of industry and our 
economic life is defective and doomed to disaster for lack 
of a co-ordinating spiritual principle to bind them into a 
rational whole ; and that the Kingdom of God is that prin- 
ciple which alone can weave up the life of man into a perfect 
synthesis. The object of this essay is to ask how far the 
Church is fulfilling its purpose of founding the Kingdom of 
God on earth ; and to suggest the principles which should 
penetrate and rule our social and economic life when it is 
dominated by the thought of the reign of Christ. 

I. DISINTEGRATION. 

If we ask what is the root of the disease from which our 
civilization is suffering, in my judgment the answer may be 
given in the one word Disintegration. The attempt to 
organize the life of man apart from God has deprived us 
of the only bond which can bind mankind together. The 
attempt to interpret the universe exclusively by one or the 
other term of the sacramental principles has led to the divorce 
of what God has joined together. The divorce of the outward 
material form from its inward spiritual principle may be 
seen in every activity of our life. In economics the dis- 
integration began when the labourer was divorced from the 
land. The landless labourer inevitably becomes a wage- 



220 THE KINGDOM OF GOD 

slave. The wage-system divorces the labour-power from the 
labourer, and depersonalizes and dehumanizes industry. 
So wealth is divorced from the work which produces it ; 
work divorced from the worship which should consecrate 
it ; property divorced from the function which alone justifies 
it, and the community which should be knit together by 
bonds of mutual service is disintegrated into warring classes 
and competing individuals. 

In education and study over-specialization too often 
divorces science from art, thought from feeling, the head 
from the heart, so that a mental disintegration leads to a 
false valuation of life, that cash valuation of spiritual gifts 
and opportunities which establishes plutocracy. We seem 
to be in real peril of gaining the whole world and losing our 
true life if our industrial organization merely multiplies com- 
modities while character decays. 

This disintegration of human life begins in the individual- 
istic interpretation of our Faith on the false basis of a dis- 
credited atomic philosophy ; which by ignoring the social 
and sacramental aspect of religion divorces the spiritual 
from the material, the soul from the body, the individual 
from society, and society from God. 

II. SYNTHESIS. 

We believe that in Christ alone, the eternal Son of God, 
who unites in His own Person the natures of God and man : 
the Son of Man, because in each person He is the basis of our 
common humanity, in Him alone can be found a common 
human basis and that objective reference and standard of values 
which will give to men a common aim, and that spirit of 
fellowship which will bind the nations into one. St. Paul 
speaks of Him as the One " in whom all things consist " 
or hold together : and it is just that bond of unity which 
can alone redeem us from an ever-increasing disintegration. 
Society must have some unifying principle. Based on selfish- 



AND THE CHURCH TO-DAY 221 

ness alone society is dead, and in time must fall to pieces 
and become like worms crawling away from a decaying 
corpse, instead of like cells, each making its best contribution 
to a living body. 

III. THE IDEAL OF THE CHURCH. 

Man can only be redeemed from selfishness by being in- 
corporated into a divine and human fellowship, and so 
while our Lord says so little about the salvation of the indi- 
vidual soul, He trained and educated and disciplined His 
Apostles to found this Divine Society. The Christian method 
of redemption is primarily corporate. It begins with the 
descent of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost, which 
united the Apostles into a Divine and human Fellowship, 
Until this Fellowship was formed by the descent of the 
Holy Spirit, individual effort to evangelize was forbidden. 
When the Fellowship of the divine humanity was created 
individual souls were added to it (Acts ii. 47). 

The Church was formed to be the Body of Christ, through 
which He would continue to energize, to carry on through 
the ages those things that He began " both to do and to 
teach " in His life on earth (Acts i. i). His last discourses 
echoed the first trumpet call of His ministry : for He came 
preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom, and after His resur- 
rection for forty days He appeared to them " speaking the 
things concerning the Kingdom of God." The Church was 
formed to be His agent in the redemption of the world, to 
establish the Kingdom of God, to incorporate men into His 
divine humanity, to bind them together in the Fellowship 
of the Holy Spirit, in order that in a brotherhood knit together 
by love His life might be manifested, His teaching pro- 
claimed, and His work fulfilled. 

The first necessity is that the Church should have the 
mind of Christ. This mind of Christ will include an abiding 
consciousness of God the Father, that faith which is the 



222 THE KINGDOM OF GOD 

instinctive reference of all things to God. The Church finds 
in God the Father the shrine of the absolute values of Right- 
eousness and Justice, Truth and Freedom which are the 
very foundations of the Throne of God, and the only possible 
bonds for the Brotherhood of man. And in Christ she finds 
the revelation of all values, human and divine, which gives 
stability to her moral judgments. Each soul will be in- 
finitely precious to the Church because he is dear to the 
Father as a child of God and redeemed by the love of Christ. 
This relationship of Father and Son is the governing principle 
of the economics of the Kingdom of God. It is imperative 
and supreme. It proclaims and preserves the priceless value 
of each human being. It fixes his relationship to all other 
men as that of Brothers. It condemns selfishness and un- 
restrained competition, the crude animal appeal to brute 
force which cannot be tolerated in a family. It is the basis 
of Christian ethics which are founded on the two great com- 
mandments in their threefold reference : " Thou shalt love 
the Lord thy God with all thy heart and all thy mind, with 
all thy soul and all thy strength. And thou shalt love thy 
neighbour as thyself." The mind of Christ in His Church 
will insist that man's life is Theo-centric and not ego-centric : 
that the one and only basis of human society is relationship 
to God. 

The mind of Christ will inflame the Church with an un- 
dying passion for the coming of the Kingdom of Heaven 
among men. It will inspire the Church with a passion for 
redemption. For the Church was not formed to be the 
sphere of a guaranteed salvation, but the living co-operative 
agent of redemption. As long as man is an incarnate spirit 
the Church must minister to him on the sacramental prin- 
ciple. It will have a threefold life, institutional, ethical, and 
mystical, corresponding to man's body, soul, and spirit. 
But as long as it has the mind of Christ it will subordinate 
the institutional to the ethical, and base the ethical on the 



AND THE CHURCH TO-DAY 223 

mystical, the union with God by love. The history of the 
Church suggests that when she has exalted the institutional 
aspect of her life above the ethical, or allowed the ethical 
to be divorced from the mystical, morals from religion, she 
has failed in her mission as surely as a man's life becomes 
disordered if his bodily impulses are indulged without moral 
restraint, or if his moral nature loses its imperative by ignoring 
God. If the Church is truly possessed by the Spirit of Christ 
she will proclaim fearlessly the absolute supremacy of God, 
the priceless value of each human life, the iniquity of every 
sin against brotherhood ; and, regardless of consequences, 
she will fling down her challenge to the world by exposing 
every falsehood, by denouncing class privilege and vested 
interest. She will claim her right to be crucified with Christ, 
if she desires to live with His life and share in His victory. 

IV. THE CHURCH TO-DAY. 

Are we satisfied with the witness of the Church to-day ? 
Is she really fulfilling her function of establishing the Kingdom 
of God on earth ? Why was she unable to avert the bloody 
war among nations nominally Christian ? Why are Christians 
unable to cope with the industrial chaos and floods of im- 
morality which have come to a crisis in the War ? Why 
has the Church of England lost its hold on the millions ? 
Why are nonconformist bodies also failing ? Why is the 
nation growing up apart from God ? The facts are no 
longer in dispute. Not one per cent, of the men of the 
nation are regular communicants. In one workshop in a 
northern town of seventy-eight men, only five ever set 
foot in a place of worship. In a district in London advantage 
was taken of the conscription census to ascertain the religious 
allegiance of boys from fourteen to eighteen years of age. 
Of 12,500 boys between these ages, including Jews and Roman 
Catholics, only 2,300 professed to belong to any religious 
body. This means that in one district of one city, over 



224 THE KINGDOM OF GOD 

10,000 boys are not connected with any religious body what 
ever. The communicants in several dioceses in England 
are not 6 per cent, of the population. " Twenty-six million 
children and youths in the United States are growing up 
without any systematic training in religion " (Religion and 
Business, p. 132, R. W. Babson, President of the Babson 
Statistical Organization). I could multiply this evidence a 
thousand-fold if space permitted, but this must suffice. 

Here, then, is the symptom. What is the cause of the 
disease, and how can it be cured ? The Church has lost 
the millions because clergy have been content to deal with 
symptoms without attempting to remove the cause of the 
disease. 

May we not summarize the cause thus ? That a false 
presentation of Christianity has disintegrated Christendom, 
and left vast forces which largely control the life of man 
unconsecrated to the service of God. The evil tradition, 
which is not yet abandoned, that Christianity has nothing 
to do with politics and economics has banished God from 
95 per cent, of the life of man. For politics and economics 
regulate homes, housing, schools, education, wages, sani- 
tation, industry, and commerce, with all the relationships 
which these involve. If this 95 per cent, of the life of the 
people is dissociated from God and religion, what wonder 
is it if they feel that God doesn't count in the battle of life. 

We cannot, if we believe in God, ignore the past without 
imperilling the future. We have to face the black record 
of the officials of the Church since the commencement of the 
Industrial Revolution from 1760 onward, as faithfully re- 
vealed in such admirable books as the Hammonds' Village, 
Town, and Skilled Labourer. If only the Church people will 
face the past, repent and confess it, and resolve to amend 
their lives, God is ready to forgive. Already there are signs 
of a new stirring of the Spirit of God in the hearts of men. 
The sins which have paralysed the Church in the immediate 



AND THE CHURCH TO-DAY 225 

past may, in my judgment, be summed up under the heads 
of Idolatry, Sectionalism, and Selfishness. 

i. IDOLATRY. 

The Church, by which in this Essay is generally meant 
the prevailing opinion of Christian people, has acquiesced 
in that Covetousness which St. Paul describes as idolatry. 
Her formulated teaching is irreproachable. Every child in 
her schools is taught in her catechism " not to covet or 
desire other men's goods. . . ." He is, then, at the age of 
fourteen sent out into an industrial and commercial world, 
whose life is based on the acquisitive instinct, whose methods 
are those of unrestrained competition, the law of the Jungle, 
the survival of the fittest, which in this case often means the 
most cunning and unscrupulous. However, we are not con- 
cerned with formulae but with prevailing opinion. The first 
step in idolatry was to depersonalize the labourer by rendering 
him landless, and then detaching from him his labour-force ; 
so that in starting a business a man buys so much raw material 
and machinery, so many volts of electricity, and so much 
man-power or labour-force. Under the wage-slavery of 
landless men the old intimate personal relationships between 
employers and employed has disappeared, the labourer is 
robbed of his personality and becomes Labour, an abstrac- 
tion, a mere impersonal force to be manipulated for the 
purposes of other men, cannon-fodder in war, mammon- 
fodder in peace, an instrument for the ends of other persons. 
Having depersonalized the labourer, our industrial system 
seems to have endowed Money with the personality. When 
the War had reached a certain stage we were told that 
" Money began to talk," " Money is shy," " Money is very 
tight ! " " Money breeds Money," and a brood of deadly 
vices, and at last mounts the throne of God as Mammon, 
and in the form of Property, Pleasure, and Power claims 
and wins the adoration of the world. Mammon-worship 

15 



226 THE KINGDOM OF GOD 

destroys the soul by the trans-valuation of all values into 
terms of cash, the cash valuation of spiritual gifts and oppor- 
tunities. Thus Feudalism is converted into Plutocracy by 
defiling the fountain of honour with the sale of titles. This 
cash valuation of spiritual gifts and opportunities pervades 
all life and degrades it. It consecrates itself in the phrase 
" the sacred rights of property." Money gives power. It 
affords pleasure. It inflames selfish ambition. It gives or 
withholds the higher education. It controls the lives of 
millions in the labour market by giving or withholding 
credit, and so manipulating employment and unemploy- 
ment. It bribes or crushes every opponent. It controls 
the legislature. It penalizes virtue. It commercializes 
vice. It makes desolating war and sordid peace. It 
corrupts and stifles the conscience, and drugs and deadens 
the soul. 

Karl Marx was -wrong in prophesying the concentration of 
" capital " in fewer and fewer hands. The rise of limited 
liability companies falsified this prophesy. But his instinct 
was not at fault. The effectual control of commerce and 
industry, of opportunity and freedom, has become concen- 
trated into the hands of a few immensely powerful trusts 
and groups of international financiers who control govern- 
ments, and make peace and war : and who frequently in 
times of crisis are themselves unable to restrain the vast 
forces they manipulate. 

Can the Church moralize this vast force of accumulated 
financial power and consecrate it to the fulfilment of God's 
Will ? No, in my judgment, she cannot. It is born of an 
unjust distribution of the rewards of labour, and it rests on 
an immoral basis of functionless property. What can she 
do ? Nothing at all so long as Christian people (with many 
noble exceptions) are given up to that idolatry which is 
covetousness. If they return to God, they can regulate 
the distribution of the rewards of labour on righteous prin- 



AND THE CHURCH TO-DAY 227 

ciples, and establish property on the moral basis of function 
instead of force. But this means an entire change of mind, 
a true repentance, if the Kingdom of God is to come in our 
commercial and industrial life. The Church, by withdrawing 
from the political and economic spheres has lost its' power 
to consecrate them. It is fatally easy and obviously profit- 
able to accept the fact of wealth without asking how riches 
are acquired or how they are spent. Thus, from the break 
up of the unity of Christendom till quite recently, the Church 
has offered Christians no guidance as to justice and righteous- 
ness in accumulating riches, and suggested no limit to selfish 
expenditure on luxury. 

Was Karl Marx or Bismarck right ? The first said that 
" Religion is opium for the people." The second describes 
Christianity as a revolutionary force so dangerous that it 
must be controlled by the State. Both statements are 
partly true. Christianity as preached by Jesus Christ is 
undoubtedly a revolutionary force. Religion as controlled 
by the power of wealth which " tunes the pulpit," is a mere 
sedative, a drug. But it is not Christianity. Would it 
not be more true to say that religion is opium for the 
rich ? As preached in many fashionable churches it 
drugs the conscience, it darkens the mind, it deadens 
the heart. 

Mr. Roger W. Babson, in describing the average New 
England small town, writes words which are equally true 
in a more subtle form of many a village and town in old 
England : " There is the mill which furnishes employment 
to most of the people : there is the great house on the hill 
in which the owner of the mill lives : and there is the local 
church in which the mill-owner is the largest contributor 
and often the leading officer. In most instances this man 
has been a real benefit to the community, and in many cases 
he is quite sincere and fairly unselfish. In many instances, 
however, he is looked upon as a hard-hearted skinflint. He 



228 THE KINGDOM OF GOD 

often has mortgages on many of the homes : he perhaps 
has a bad record as to the treatment of his labour (note the 
abstraction) and he is generally feared if not hated by towns- 
people. The Church suffers from such men. Not only do 
they dominate the minister and make life miserable for him, 
but they bring reproach on the whole Church industry. . . . 
Not content with running their own business and a good 
part of the town, these men are determined to run the Church 
and the preacher" (Religion and Business, p. 13). Multiply 
this by many millions and we shall understand how difficult 
it is for institutional religion to resist the pressure of high 
finance. 

The Christian bodies in America have issued an admirable 
Report on " Christianity and Industry," even excelling in 
courage and clearness the excellent Report issued by the 
Archbishops' Committee on the same subject in England. 
But are these solemn utterances of the leaders of Religion, 
these efforts to proclaim the principles which should sanctify 
our economic arrangements, accepted by Christian people ? 
Scarcely at all, I fear. The poor welcome the proclamation 
of these Christian principles. In Glasgow, a labour leader 
read out twelve propositions on property to a meeting of 
communists and extreme socialists. Each proposition was 
greeted with enthusiastic cheers by this revolutionary audience. 
The speaker then said : " These propositions are taken 
verbatim from the Archbishops' Report on ' Christianity 
and Industry,' as the teaching of Jesus Christ. So don't let 
us hear any more about Religion being opium for the people." 

On the other hand, when in two fashionable Churches 
in England the declaration of the 350 Anglican bishops on 
the same subject was made the subject of a course of sermons 
by two eloquent preachers, one course was brought to an 
abrupt conclusion by the remonstrances of " the faithful " 
who will not tolerate any criticism of unearned increment 
and vested interests which is likely to be effectual. In the 



AND THE CHURCH TO-DAY 229 

other case, the audience gradually faded away, with indignant 
mutterings of " Socialism " and " sheer Bolshevism." Truly 
as of old " the common people heard Him gladly " ; but the 
rulers said : " He stirreth up the people." This sheer 
idolatry of property, power, and pleasure, of comfort, luxury, 
and influence, which makes men refuse to listen to any 
effectual criticism of profits, dividends, and rent has estab- 
lished a silent tyranny over the ministry. Heavy institu- 
tional commitments make the Church too dependent on 
the favour of the wealthy. The priest who too faithfully 
echoes his Master's teaching will not be crucified : but his 
work will be starved, he will be frozen out with the polite 
and polished warning that, " unless he is more tactful he 
will certainly imperil his promotion." Through the disas- 
trous association with the State, which places much of the 
patronage of the Church in the hands of politicians, it is 
easy to understand how the flames of Pentecost may be 
trimmed to illuminate a garden party of respectability, and 
how the bride of Christ may become the concubine of Caesar. 
But the evil is not merely due to State alliance. It is due 
to an evil economic system. It is as common among Non- 
conformists as in the Church of England. Several of the 
Labour Members of Parliament have once been local preachers 
whose bold criticism of what is unrighteous and unjust in 
our present system, awakened the fears and hostility of the 
wealthy members of their denominations, and of the officials 
who dispensed with their services. So would they drive 
Christ from their Churches and Chapels if He imperilled 
vested interests by His teaching. The future of the Church 
depends on the degree of self-sacrifice and zeal with which 
wealthy Christians hasten to moralize their property and 
humanize their industry, forsaking idols and restoring per- 
sonality to Labour, that the image of God may once more 
shine forth from a brother's face who co-operates with free- 
dom and fellowship in work for the commonwealth. 



230 THE KINGDOM OF GOD 

2. SECTIONALISM. 

When we ask how has this widespread idolatry arisen, we 
may possibly find the answer in the prevalence of sectionalism 
among Christians, the habit of divorcing what God has joined 
together. It is not confined to religion. It infects every 
department of thought. Over-specialization and excessive 
differentiation isolate one branch of knowledge from another, 
and lead to mental disintegration, a loss of proportion in 
the judgment. The wide application of the scientific method 
emphasizes this disintegration. For nothing is more common 
than to find men of science making an abstraction for the 
purpose of study, and then mistaking the truth of this ab- 
straction for the truth of the whole. But here we must 
confine ourselves to sectionalism in the Church to-day, and 
note how it divorces what God has joined together. The 
teaching of the Puritan, who neglects to sanctify the material 
universe by a false spirituality which ignores the body, 
works out in a denial of the Incarnation ; and the Catholic 
who fails to consecrate the economic life by concentrating 
all attention on a merely " sanctuary " religion, is equally 
guilty of divorcing what God has joined together. Souls 
are not made apart from the body ; nor are they made in 
the Sanctuary merely by Prayer and Sacraments. These 
are their strength and joy and crown. The Sanctuary is 
the power-station of their life, reinforcing every activity of 
their soul. But souls are made in the strain and stress of 
daily life, in home and school, factory, in office, mill and 
workshop, wherever a child has to think or will or love, 
there souls are made, as between right and wrong, good and 
evil, the shuttle of the will moves ceaselessly backward and 
forward weaving the web of character. The soul is evolved 
in the strain of conflict as the one primitive innate instinct, 
the will to live, is educated into the will to live with others, 
which with increasing responsibility grows into the will to 



AND THE CHURCH TO-DAY 231 

live for others : and when this is perfected by a readiness 
to die for others the will to live has become the will to love, 
and the soul is made. For to love is to live ; and there is 
no other life. 

If this be a true account of the formation of character 
and the making of a soul, it will at once be realized that the 
economic relationships in commerce and industry are as 
spiritual and important as prayer or Bible-reading, Mass 
and Sacraments. The Puritan who confines his conception 
of spirituality to his thoughts about God and himself, to 
what he calls his soul's life, is profoundly mistaken. The 
very things he despises or fails to consecrate beauty, art, 
music, movement, colour, architecture, science, and industry 
are often far more spiritual than his opinion about pre- 
destination and election : for true art is the living embodi- 
ment of creative personality and the expression of the absolute 
values of the good, the beautiful, and the true a real unveil- 
ing of God which purifies and stimulates the soul : while many 
theological discussions are merely the expression of man's 
perversity. The Puritan's failure to consecrate the material 
universe is due to his loss of the sacramental principle. He 
divorces what God has joined together, the material and the 
spiritual, the body and the soul. This utterly false spiritu- 
ality has no warrant in the Bible, and no justification in 
the Christian religion. For the Bible teaches the consecration 
of art and craft and labour to God in a vocational industry. 
" And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, See I have called 
by name Bezaleel . . . and have filled him with the spirit 
of God, in wisdom and in understanding and in knowledge, 
and in all manner of workmanship, to devise cunning works, 
to work in gold and in silver and in brass, and in cutting 
of stones for setting, and in carving of wood to work in 
all manner of workmanship " (Exodus xxxi. 2). While the 
consecration of all honest labour into which we put our 
heart as an acceptable sacrifice to God is proclaimed in these 



282 THE KINGDOM OF GOD 

words : " They will maintain the fabric of the world : and 
in the handiwork of their craft is their prayer " (Ecclus. 
xxxviii. 34). 

The same Sectionalism may be observed among a section 
of clergy who call themselves Catholic, but have little right 
to such a noble name. For they preach a merely " sanctuary " 
religion of Confession and Mass entirely dissociated from the 
social and economic life of the people. But to dissociate 
sacraments and sacrifice and worship from the social and 
economic life of the people is to pervert worship by divorcing 
what God has joined together. The Sacraments are essen- 
tially social, the action of the Divine Fellowship of God and 
man in the Holy Catholic Church. A man confesses to his 
priest because his sins are not a matter between his soul 
and God alone, but by them he has injured the Brotherhood 
of the Baptized, the Divine Fellowship, the body of Christ 
The priest judges his penitence and absolves him in God's 
name, because he is set apart by God for this function in the 
life of the Fellowship. The whole Body of the Church is 
a priestly body, the Body of our great High Priest, who has 
ordained the ministerial priesthood to fulfil this function of 
the body, to restore the penitent to full communion in the 
Divine Fellowship. 

The priest offers the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass because 
God in the Fellowship has set him apart to fulfil this function 
of the Body. His action is not the private act of an individual, 
but the corporate action of the Fellowship. In the Mass he 
does not merely offer the sinless humanity of Christ to the 
Father in isolation from the faithful. This would be to offer 
the Head without the Body. At every Mass Christ is offered 
in all the fulness of redeemed Humanity. The whole material 
universe which He created and which only consists (or holds 
together) in Him, is represented by the bread and wine and 
water : the whole human race, for whom He died, in whom 
He lives, are represented by the little band of faithful who 



AND THE CHURCH TO-DAY 233 

have responded to His call, and whom He has incorporated 
by Holy Baptism into His Divine Humanity, to be His body 
through whom He may work out the redemption of the world. 
They labour for Him. He works in them. They work and 
suffer and witness for Him in home and office, mill and mine, 
throughout the week ; and on the Lord's day they bring 
their offering, all that they have said and done, every effort 
of honest work, all that they have done or suffered, they 
bring their sacrifice of service to Christ that He may cleanse 
it, and make it His own, and offer it to the Father. The 
sacrifice of Christ which redeemed the world was the entire 
consecration of His human nature to the service of God 
the Father in the task of establishing God's Kingdom on 
earth. He offered throughout His life the perfect response 
of body, soul, and spirit, of heart and mind and will to the 
Will of God the Father. This is what He still offers in every 
Eucharist. But now, His sacred humanity has won a vast 
extension. For every soul baptized into the Church becomes 
a member of Christ, a partaker of the divine nature, and a 
part of His living body, the Church. In these, His members, 
Christ penetrates into every home and factory, mine and mill. 
In them He offers Himself to the Father for His service. 
Through them He ceaselessly witnesses for righteousness 
and justice. Through them He labours for the coming of 
the Kingdom. It is this Body of Christ, consecrated men 
and women whom He has incorporated body and soul into 
His Divine Humanity in the Fellowship of the Catholic 
Church, that our great High Priest offers to the Father in 
every Eucharist. 

As surely as the bread and wine become the most holy 
Body and the most precious Blood of Christ, and also by 
devout communion become the body and blood of the 
Christian, so surely does Christ offer Himself in all the fulness 
of redeemed humanity, that is to say, in the Church which 
is His Body, to the Father. " I in them, and Thou in me, 
that they may be perfected into one." 



234 THE KINGDOM OF GOD 

Now to isolate one aspect of the holy sacrifice from the 
other, to separate the Body and Blood of Christ in the Blessed 
Sacrament from the members of Christ in the Church ; to adore 
Him in the tabernacle on the Altar and to fail to recognize 
Him in the starving child in the slums, in whom He dwells, 
whose body He has consecrated to be His tabernacle, the 
shrine of Deity, where God delights to dwell ; to find Christ 
in the Sanctuary and to miss Him in the workshop, is that 
spirit of sectionalism or schism which makes so much nominal 
Catholicism futile and worthless. The only true Catholicism 
claims the whole life of every man for God, body, soul and 
spirit, in home and school, in factory, mine, and workshop. 
Therefore it must raise an unceasing protest against an 
unchristian organization of commerce and industry, which 
ignores God, and destroys His image in man. 

Why is so much noble and courageous spiritual effort by 
our parish priests utterly wasted ? Why are they often 
heartbroken at the spiritual apathy of their flock ? Is it 
not because their efforts are misdirected, and because that 
in tolerating an unchristian organization of industry they 
are shirking the real battle with evil. They send their children 
out to fight a foe whom they have never fought themselves. 
The boy and girl at fourteen years of age, with the glow of 
their confirmation fresh npon them, are sent out to spend the 
greater part of their daily life in an atmosphere of materialism 
from which every spiritual value has been eliminated. This 
godless, soulless, inhuman, impersonal, mechanical system 
of industry bleeds them white of all true vitality by exhausting 
toil. It destroys their sense of beauty to which God would 
appeal in His revelation of Himself. It disintegrates the 
family. It has destroyed home life. It lowers every high 
ideal. It deadens every activity of the soul. It destroys 
every spiritual value. Boy after boy comes back to his 
friend wounded and bleeding from his first brave battle to 
preserve his honour and integrity and truthfulness in business 



AND THE CHURCH TO-DAY 235 

with the bitter cry, " It is impossible to be a Christian in 
business." 

We do not forget the noble efforts of many business men 
to sanctify this system. But it is impossible really to sanctify 
what is wrong in principle, and an economic based solely on 
the acquisitive instinct and the unrestrained selfishness of 
the individual cannot be made to serve God's purpose. 

So we say to our brethren in the ministry : " Why do you 
complain of apathy and indifference when you tolerate a 
materialistic organization of industry which stifles the souls 
of men ? Why don't you issue forth from the sanctuary, 
and carry your Gospel of Divine Humanity into the workshop 
where the battle is being fought ? You are right in believing 
that in the Catholic Faith is the only hope for the redemption 
of mankind. But you are wrong in narrowing your Catholi- 
cism to the sanctuary and the home. No religion is catholic 
which does not claim the whole of the life of every man and 
of all mankind domestic, industrial, commercial, national, 
international, and ecclesiastical for God : and the future as 
well as the past. It is not enough to grope about with 
canonists and antiquarians among the grave-clothes of the 
past, with a merely backward look, as though the Holy 
Spirit had left the Church some centuries ago. We must 
try to seize the opportunity of the future. We must change 
the Catholicism of the Tombs for the Catholicism of the 
Mountain-tops, with its world-wide vision, and a heart on 
fire with missionary zeal and social enthusiasm. 

3. SELFISHNESS. 

We may note in every department of life the interaction 
of two principles which modify one another in our method 
of knowledge, the intellectual and mystical, the knowledge 
of the head and of the heart, in our religious conceptions, 
the reaction of the ideal and the practical, and in our political 
theory the reaction of the individual and society. Human 



286 THE KINGDOM OF GOD 

life seems best symbolized by an ellipse with two foci, and 
best interpreted by the swing of the pendulum between these 
two points of the individual and the social aspects of life. 
Ideas undoubtedly rule the world, but the world reacts on 
and modifies the ideas. The Chuich starts out to convert 
the world : the world largely succeeds in converting the 
Church. Man invents machinery to serve him in his work, 
and awakens to find himself the slave of his machine. There 
is then an incessant action and reaction of spirit and matter, 
of body and soul, of religious and philosophic ideas on the 
economic life, and of economic conditions on religious beliefs. 

So when at the Renaissance ideas proved too strong for 
the crushing intellectual tyranny of the Papacy, the pendulum 
of the human mind swung from the rigid despotism of the 
Papacy to the equally false extreme of the unrestrained 
individualism of Protestantism. The atomic conception of 
personality which treats each man as a separate, independent, 
isolated individual, formulated itself in such expressions as 
that, " My religion is between myself and God alone." " I 
don't want anyone between my soul and God." " Religion 
has nothing to do with economics and politics." This ex- 
aggerated individualism is of course in clear contradiction 
to the Christian Faith which is the Gospel of the Kingdom, 
the bond of a Fellowship. It practically denies the whole 
method of our redemption. Christ redeems man from that 
selfishness which is the essence of sin by incorporating him 
into a Brotherhood. Man can only save his life by losing 
it in a fellowship of mutual service. 

This false religious individualism, based on the fallacy of 
atomic personality, has substituted the selfish conception 
of a merely individual salvation for the corporate redemption, 
which Christ came to preach ; and personal pietism has been 
substituted for social righteousness " Is your soul saved ? " 
for " Thy Kingdom come as in heaven so on earth." This 
religious heresy inevitably expresses itself in an economic 



AND THE CHURCH TO-DAY 237 

fallacy. The exaggerated individualism of Protestantism 
shattered the unity of Christendom, and left the vast forces 
of economic and social life uncontrolled by a common purpose. 
In the Middle Ages, in spite of every glaring defect, the life 
of man was a unity and a community knit together by the 
bond of a common Faith. The same reference to God 
which inspired his personal devotion, also controlled and 
regulated his social and economic relationships. The town 
or village was a community, with a common Faith, common 
lands, corporate work in Guilds. Industry was vocational, 
a social function of the common life. Property rested on 
a functional basis, some useful duty done for the common- 
wealth. But with the break-up of Christendom, the principle 
of disruption which shattered its religious life expressed 
itself in economic disintegration. The spirit which said, 
" My religion is between my soul and God alone," was 
translated into economic terms, " A man can do what he 
likes with his own." As religion ignored brotherhood in 
egoistic self-assertion so industry ceased to be regarded as 
a social function, and took as its motive the unrestrained 
accumulation of private profit for the individual in entire 
disregard of the commonwealth. The Church came to be 
regarded as an aggregation of pious individuals who for 
personal benefit agreed to worship together, instead of a 
family and fellowship bound together by the bond of a 
common partaking of the life of God in Christ. The sacra- 
ments have come to be regarded only as means for the 
strengthening of the individual soul instead of the corporate 
expression of that fellowship with one another based on 
fellowship with God in His Son Jesus Christ. 

Thus a disintegrated Christendom leads to a disintegrated 
economic and social life, and our one and only hope of re- 
demption lies in the return of Christ to reign over us, and 
once more to bind us together in a Brotherhood of the Com- 
mon Life, to restore the unity which selfishness has shattered. 



288 THE KINGDOM OF GOD 

V. THE REMEDY. 

The appalling character of the late War and the sordid 
nature of the Peace have forced thoughtful men to con- 
sider whether it is possible to redeem an economic system 
based on the unrestrained selfishness of the individual, under 
which the labourer has lost his personal value and become 
mere mechanical force, and industry has lost its divine 
purpose as communal service and sacrifice, and become 
slavery. For the essence of slavery is to use man as an 
instrument for the ends of other men when God created 
him as an end in himself. The unrestrained competition 
of individualism leads inevitably to the suicide of the human 
race in a world-wide war. A collectivism which ignores 
the freedom of the individual kills initiative and enterprise, 
degenerates into bureaucracy, and perishes in stagnation. 
The hope of redemption lies in the threefold reference of 
the Catholic Faith, by which both the individual and cor- 
porate life while they react on one another are harmonized 
and kept healthy by being brought into relationship with 
God. As against the depersonalization and demoralization 
of human life and values which inevitably occurs when 
man is dissociated from God, we believe that the redemption 
of man can only come by a return to God who created him 
for Himself, made him in His own image, whose love for 
him gives him his real value, and only in communion with 
whom can those human values be preserved. 

Now this threefold reference of the individual to the 
corporate life, and of both to God, is laid down by our Lord 
as the basis of the Christian religion. " Thou shalt love 
the Lord thy God with all th}* heart and mind and soul and 
strength, and thy neighbour as thyself." And it is interesting 
to note that in the Athanasian Creed we have the rich develop- 
ment of this threefold reference, and find the true principles 
of human society enshrined in the very nature of God the 



AND THE CHURCH TO-DAY 239 

ever-blessed Trinity, which gives to our socialism its rock-like 
spiritual foundation. Our Lord's analysis of human nature, 
which seems to us final and absolute as the basis of social 
philosophy, may be summed up in three propositions: 

(1) That the individual is of infinite and priceless value, 

(2) That he can only realize himself by self-sacrifice ; can 
only save his life by losing it in a larger synthesis in service 
for the commonwealth. (3) That this realization of the 
individual in the corporate life of fellowship can only be 
harmonized by the reference of both individual and corporate 
life to God and to His Will. 

This is the image of God in man. The doctrine of the 
Ever Blessed Trinity preserves Individuality in Fellowship, 
" neither confounding the Persons, nor dividing the sub- 
stance." It recognizes a functional activity of the Fellow- 
ship Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, each standing for a 
definite activity, and all co-operating in the work of each. 
It recognizes an equality of status which is not inconsistent 
with a precedence of function. The Son is " equal to the 
Father as touching his Godhead, and inferior to the Father 
as touching His manhood." In industry this preserves the 
differentiation of function essential to corporate effort in 
authority, management, direction, and planning as communal 
functions, and saves them from becoming a caste distinction. 
The union of God and Man in the Incarnation of the eternal 
Son of God when interpreted into terms of industry secures 
for us that all that is truly human shall be regarded as 
really divine. It saves us from that fatal schism between 
secular and sacred : it consecrates industry to be a holy 
sacrifice : it humanizes worship to be a social activity. 
Through Christ it preserves in every man the human and the 
divine in the unity of personality " one, not by the con- 
version of the Godhead into flesh," as in the philosophy of 
Humanitarians and some Modernists, " but by the taking 
of the Manhood into God," as in the Catholic sacraments. 



240 THE KINGDOM OF GOD 

" One altogether ; not by confusion of substance, but by 
unity of Person. For as the reasonable soul and flesh is 
one man, so God and Man is one Christ." Here is the eternal 
protest of God and His Church against our present system, 
which mangles human personality by scientific abstractions : 
which treats a Son of God who works with his hands as a 
mere " hand," a supplier of labour-force, and ignores his 
personality, his pride in work, his creative impulse, his 
affections, his family relationships, his spiritual character. 

Nor would I surrender one word of the damnatory clauses 
if only the Creed be translated from its original purpose of 
a defensive philosophic statement of the Faith, and given 
its social significance. Without this Catholic Faith firmly 
held, which bases social relationship on Fellowship with 
God, Society cannot be saved. Without this reference of 
all ends and purposes to God's \Vill and to the absolute 
values of Justice and Righteousness, human values cannot 
be preserved. There is nothing wrong in damning or con- 
demning, if you damn the right things. In our decadent 
civilization men damn the wrong things. But Plutocracy 
in its destruction of every spiritual value, in its trampling 
on personality in that unrestrained competition which is 
inevitably plunging the world into another world-wide war, 
in the coarse brutality which blackens and blots out every 
beauty of nature in the making of private profits, till the 
power to appreciate beauty is perishing from the soul of our 
people, this system which destroys the true life of our people 
in the effort to get a living, is altogether damnable. Is it 
not just because the Church damns the wrong persons, that 
she has lost influence with the people ? Fifty years ago 
the official Church launched all the thunders of the Church 
and State against a few clergy who wore vestments ; and 
with the consent of the Bishops, priests were actually flung 
into prison for this supposed offence, while the officials of 
the Church were steadily indifferent to social righteousness 



AND THE CHURCH TO-DAY 241 

and justice. If the Athanasian Creed be given a social 
interpretation its damnatory causes, are much needed for 
sweaters, profiteers, and for those international financiers, 
who have called into existence an inhuman power which 
they themselves are unable to control, which threatens to 
kindle the everlasting fires of greed and hostility and hatred 
and incessant war among men, and to make human life a 
hell on earth. 

The application of the Catholic Faith to our industrial 
and economic life may be summed up in the three words : 
Faith, Freedom and Fellowship. Faith in God and man 
gives the spiritual basis of social life, and preserves human 
values. Freedom secures initiative, creative enterprise, and 
the full expansion of Personality ; and Fellowship, which 
makes industry a communal effort for the commonwealth, 
corrects the tendency to selfishness, which is the very essence 
of sin and creates all those priceless ethical values of Brother- 
hood, which are essential to the founding of the Kingdom 
of God among men. These are the fundamental spiritual 
principles of Guild Socialism which translates them into 
economic expression under such terms as self-government 
in industry, national ownership, and democratic control ; 
vocational direction of labour and functional claim to pro- 
perty. These suggest an organization of industry which 
will cultivate those co-operative virtues that are essential 
to brotherhood, and which will provide the atmosphere in 
which our Faith may find its full social and economic 
expression. 

The doom of a Godless civilization is sealed. " Because 
that knowing God, they glorified Him not as God, neither 
gave thanks. . . . God gave them up." Because " they 
exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshipped and 
served the creature rather than the Creator . . . God gave 
them up." " Even as they refused to have God in their 
knowledge, God gave them up" (Romans i. 21). Human 

16 



242 THE CHURCH TO-DAY 

society organized apart from God is swiftly moving to the 
suicide of the human race in a universal war. 

We believe that the Church in her Catholic complex of 
dogma, discipline, and devotion, in her social principles of 
faith, freedom, and fellowship has the only secret of man's 
redemption in binding men together into a living Fellowship 
with God. If she will purge herself from worldliness, idolatry, 
and selfishness and stake her life on establishing the Kingdom 
of God among men ; if she will issue forth from the sanctuary 
to claim for Christ the absolute dominion over the whole 
life of man, to enthrone Him as King over our social relation- 
ships and our industrial and commercial activities, as well 
as over our individual life ; if she will concentrate all her 
energies at whatever cost on giving social and economic 
expression to her Faith, then Christ will return to reign over 
us and " the kingdom of the world will become the Kingdom 
of our Lord and of his Christ." 



EPILOGUE 

BY 

G. K. CHESTERTON 



EPILOGUE 245 



EPILOGUE 

LAST night, as the grey twilight deepened into darkness, 
a weird and telepathic conviction came to me that somebody 
was somewhere at that moment writing down these words : 
" The modern world is no longer in the swaddling-bands 
of the creeds ; it has come to years of discretion and claims 
a full responsibility for its own thoughts and actions " ; or 
words to that effect. This conviction was not wholly due 
to a cold and creeping shudder that came across me ; such 
as that which is said to warn a man that someone steps across 
his grave. It was indirectly connected with a conviction 
closer to experience ; the knowledge that somebody does write 
that sentence every night, in order that it may appear every 
morning in all those newspapers which pride themselves 
on giving us what is new. But there is something much 
more extraordinary about that sentence than the suggestion 
that it is new ; and that is the belated realization that came 
to me that, after all, it is true. I had read it some nine 
hundred and ninety times before it even occurred to me 
that this could be the case ; but when I read it the nine 
hundred and ninety-first time I realized suddenly that, even 
in a world of so much seeming waste, even these words had 
not been written in vain. The phrase is much more true 
than the writers are aware ; it is true in a sense that they 
would not at all approve ; and if they knew how true it 
was, they probably would not write it. I confess that there 
falls on me a sort of hush of awe, and almost of terror, to 
think of all those thousands of journalists simultaneously 



246 EPILOGUE 

writing down something that is perfectly true, even without 
knowing it. 

In a simple and almost sinister sense the modern world 
really has come of age. That modern spirit that had 
birth in the Renaissance, its boyhood in the Protestant 
and commercial centuries, and its first manhood amid the 
machinery of the industrial revolution, really has been going 
long enough by this time to be judged on its own merits. It 
really is old enough to take the responsibility for its own 
actions. It really is old enough to answer for itself. But 
the fact may perhaps appear less boisterously exhilarant 
when we consider what it has to answer for, and what its 
actions have been. 

In any case, however, the distinction is of some importance ; 
because those who make this suggestion generally also make 
suggestions flatly inconsistent with it. While insisting that 
the modern man can do anything he likes, because it happens 
to be something they like, they commonly take refuge in a 
contrary suggestion when it happens to be something they 
do not like. Anything which is wrong with the world is 
attributed to the stringency of those dogmatic bonds that 
have been burst asunder, or the vitality of those superstitions 
that have been finally slain. Now it is obvious that these 
philosophers cannot have it both ways. If it be true that 
emancipated man has made a new and wonderful world in 
his own image, he cannot possibly excuse the ugliness of 
the image he has made, as due to his devotion to the idols 
he has deserted. In short, if he is responsible for his actions, 
he is responsible for his bad actions ; and cannot put the 
blame on the religion from which he broke away in order 
to act at all. This is obvious even in abstract logic, and 
much more vividly obvious when we come to concrete facts. 
We may like or dislike modern machinery ; but we cannot 
say it is a historical fact that a modern machine was modelled 
on a torture-engine of the Spanish Inquisition. We may 



EPILOGUE 247 

like or dislike a hive of workers " living in " under capitalist 
conditions ; but we "cannot say it is a historical fact that 
those who arranged it modelled it, with devout ardour, on 
a mediaeval monastery. We may like or dislike a modern 
colonial war ; but we cannot assert that it was imposed on 
us by the Pope like a Crusade ; we may like or dislike the 
Yellow Press, but we cannot pretend that it is one of the 
false colours flown by the Scarlet Woman. Modern man 
is, as his admirers say, by this time a sufficiently ancient 
man to have done a good many things on his own account, 
without the slightest consultation with his mediaeval grand- 
mother. There is hardly a link left of the chains that bound 
him to the pre-reformation prison. He has come out of 
prison long ago. The only question is what has come out 
of prison ; and whether some perverse persons have not 
been tempted to prefer the prison to the prisoner. 

In trying to judge this fairly, it may be well to begin 
even with the simplest and most self-evident proviso ; that 
this normal question concerns the mass of mankind. It 
would be as absurd to talk as if all mediaeval men were as 
wise and happy as the saints, as it would be to talk as if all 
the modern men were as stupid and squalid as the millionaires. 
Even to the chance examples already chosen the application 
of this popular test holds good. If we were simply comparing 
the machinery of the Industrial Revolution with the machinery 
of the Inquisition, most of us would prefer even a threshing- 
machine to a thumb-screw. But most men, even in the 
last and worst days of the Inquisition, went to their graves 
without knowing any more about the thumb-screw than 
most American citizens know about the Third Degree, and 
much less than they know about the ceremonial of burning 
negroes alive. On the other hand, no man can go to his 
grave, or go to his shop or his office, without knowing all 
about the good or evil of modern machinery. We can 
therefore, truly ask what the modem machinery has done 



248 EPILOGUE 

with the mass of men ; we might almost put it in the form 
of asking how it has manufactured the mass of men. And 
that comparison, though full of complexities like all historical 
things, is capable of a certain large simplification. The 
modern change found the mass of men living on the land, 
and it turned them out on to the road. It is quite true that 
they were originally called slaves on the land and were later 
called free men on the road ; and we will give all due 
importance to such names. The road may be a symbol 
of liberty and the furrow of slavery ; but the object here 
is to sum up the realities that were so symbolized. The 
point is that the modern spirit, as such, certainly did not 
tend to make the serf in the field the master of the field ; 
but only to make him the master of the feet with which he 
walked in his freedom along the king's highway. He could 
only take his chance of selling his labour to this man or 
that ; and I do not undervalue the fact that it was in form 
a free contract, even when it was in fact a leonine contract. 
But it certainly is the fact that his economic position as a 
modern wage-earner is less secure even than his position 
when he was a feudal serf, and far less dignified than when 
he had the luck to be a free guildsman. If I say that 
there is at least a doubt, touching the mass of men, whether 
their lot has been improved at all by the vast rational revolu- 
tion of the last four hundred years, I am deliberately adopting 
a tone of restraint and even of understatement. For I 
wish to emphasize the fact that all people who think, and 
not merely our own school of thinkers, have by this time 
reached that degree of doubt. Nobody is certain that 
Capitalism has been a success ; nobody is certain that 
Industrialism can solve its own problems ; nobody is certain 
that these problems were not solved better in the ages of 
faith. The revolution has revolved ; the wheel has come 
full circle ; the world has run its own course. And the world 
itself is doubtful of its goal. The world itself has lost its 



EPILOGUE 249 

way. There is in it a doubt far deeper than what is com- 
monly called religious doubt. It might be called irreligious 
doubt ; or a doubt about the ideal wisdom even or irreligion. 
The Church, being an object of faith, is in some sense naturally 
an object of doubt. But modern men are not merely in 
doubt about what they believe, but about what they know. 
They are not merely questioning what they are told to do ; 
they are questioning what they have done. What they 
have done is to destroy charity for the sake of competition, 
and then to turn their own competition into monopoly. 
What they have done is to turn both peasants and guilds- 
men into the employed, and then turn these into the un- 
employed. They trampled on a hundred humanities of 
piety and pity in order to rush after Free Trade ; and their 
Free Trade has been so free that it has brought them within 
a stride of the Servile State. They gave up their shrines 
and their sacred hostels to the pleasure of an aristocracy, 
only to find that their aristocracy no longer consisted of 
aristocrats, or even of gentlemen. They have laid the world 
waste with the dreariest and most abject atheism, only to 
find that their very atheism has cleared a space for the 
return of the most fantastic superstitions of crystals and 
mascots. They have built a city of houses only notable 
for the size of the ground-rent and the smallness of the 
ground-plan ; a city of whose wealth and poverty they are 
alike ashamed ; a city from which they themselves flee 
into the country, and which they themselves cannot prevent 
from crawling outwards into the country to pursue them. 
But upon all these things the modern man looks doubtfully 
and with a double mind ; for they are the fulfilments of 
his own doctrines of science and free thought ; and it would 
be strange if some broken and half-forgotten sentence did 
not sometimes begin to form itself in his mind. " Unless 
the Lord built. ..." 
To the modern man who has reached this degree of real 



250 EPILOGUE 

doubt, truer and more terrible than the cheap riddles of 
the Bible-smasher, the essays of this book are addressed. 
It would be, indeed, unwise to end it in a tone which denies 
that his doubt is a real doubt ; that is, a doubt that cuts 
both ways. He may justly claim much that is valuable 
in the modern world ; nor need he fear, as I think he some- 
times does, that its critics propose merely an artificial and 
antiquarian reconstruction of the mediaeval world. For, 
indeed, those who understand the Catholic tradition of 
Christianity are not offering a Church which is exclusively 
at issue with modern things, or even one that was exclusively 
expressed in mediaeval things. The point is not so much 
that that age was relatively right while this age is relatively 
wrong ; it is rather that the Church was relatively right 
when all ages were relatively wrong. Even if the modern 
man's doubt goes no farther than balancing sweating against 
serfdom, or swindling financiers against robber barons, it 
will imply the need of some third thing, some authority 
above the ages, to hold the balance. History has produced 
only one thing that can even claim to hold it. 

When the Christian apostle declared that he died daily, 
he told all the truth there was in what was told us, in our 
youth, to the effect that the Church was dying. If the 
saint had died every day, the Church has died in every 
century. Many said the Church was dying when Julian 
proclaimed from the Imperial throne the worship of Apollo. 
Many would have said again, after the first triumphs of 
many oriental heresies, that the Church was dying ; and in 
this sense they would have been right. The Church was 
dying ; but the worship of Apollo was dead. Many would 
have said it when Calvinism was overshadowing province 
after province, and rightly ; the Church was dying, but 
the oriental heresies were dead. When the French Revo- 
lution had made a new heaven and a new earth, it was quite 
obvious to every clear-sighted person that Christianity had 



EPILOGUE 251 

come to an end. The Church was certainly dying ; but 
Calvinism was dead. The Christian religion has died daily ; 
its enemies have only died. And what we see before us 
to-day is not a mere fashion of the praise of one century 
over another ; but at most a rather unique illustration 
of the fact that the world fares worse without that religion 
than with it. The Church is dying as usual ; but the modern 
world is dead ; and cannot be raised save in the fashion 
of Lazarus. 



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