SIR,-The Beveridge Report is a plan for the imposition by the
State of a measure of social justice: it is a system of compulsory regulations, involving a mass of punitive measures to guard against abuse; and compulsion is the keynote of the points which you single out for special approval. A powerful Government is. then, essential to its purpose.
That " Power tends to corrupt " is axiomatic. Power does not necessarily corrupt ; but it tends to, and will, unless
either the ruler is exceptionally enlightened or the people are virile and vigilant; and an enlightened ruler will make his first purpose to awaken and enlighten the people that they may
learn to administer their own affairs. or his work will be undone in time as the law of corruption comes into play.
To give to the Slate the responsibility for providing for the material satisfection of the people, and for getting the necessary work for this end done by means of punitive laws, is to pander to the animal nature of the people, making it unintelligent, unresponsive and unvigilant. All these traits have become dangerously predominant in England ; and a measure which appears to be based on methods which will encourage them should be suspect.
Two ways are open to us ; and the future depends on our choice. We can demand State action, or we can try to awaken the people. By the first we shall get imposed order, by the second free order; by the first we shall accept government on a sub-Christian, jungle basis, tempered by what measure of morality self-interest or the Church may persuade the State to adopt: by the second we may be able to make the people socially conscious. If so, they will then be able to administer much of their own affairs, and to control the action of those they delegate to positions of authority. Under the lost, the kingdom of God may exist in secular society; by the second, we may make society part of the kingdom of God.
Many of us are in continual despair of achieving a Christian society, except by ourselves using the machinery of a strong government. We must turn our backs on this temptation of despair, wbich is of anti-Christ ; and we must beware, for the disguises of anti-Chest can he so charming.
I do not want to preach, but to clarify basic principles ; and then to suggest a plan of action.
The ordinary people must assemble in town and village, and in their own parliaments reveal in public local and national injustice, stupidity and treason. By discussing these things together, in the open, they will learn to relate them, to grasp the principles of life in society, and to plan action. They will appoint vigilance committees to examine legislative and executive action. They may demand that common morality and justice be made a written Common Law; end they will see that it is implemented.
The foundations of this work have already been quietly laid, and I shall be glad to send information to anyone interested. For sixpence, I can let them have a hook, Let the People Rule, which adequately summarises the work, principles and plans of the men who have done the pioneering.
By patient and hard work, we can provide an alternative to the Beveridge and every other plan: we can build a nation of responsible people who will ensure a just distribution of property and goods and enable a free people to serve themselves.
The White House, Eynsham, Oxon.
It Savours of Totalitarianism
Ste,-Let us consider the Beveridge Report: I. What of the manner of the Report's presentation? Does it not rather savour of totalitarianism that one man, belonging to a particular school of economics, with which not nearly everybody agrees, should be deputed to bring out such a document? Was it not unfair to the people in general and thoroughly out of keeping with the principles of democracy that the way for it should have been prepared beforehand by careful propaganda? Criticism was almost stifled before the Report was published.
2 How does the Report accord with the 'following extracts from the Encyclical Quadragesimo Anno? ". . It is an injustice, a grave evil and a disturbance of right order, for a larger and higher association to arrogate to itself functions which can be performed efficiently by smaller and lower societies. This is a fundamental principle of social philosophy. unshaken and unchangeable. . . The State, therefore, should leave to smaller groups the settlement of business of minor importance, which otherwise would greatly distract it; it will thus carry out with greater freedom, power and success the tasks belonging to it alone, because it alone can effectively accomplish these: directing, watching, stimulating, restraining, as circumstances suggest and necessity demands. Let those in power, therefore, be convinced that the more faithfully ' this principle of subsidiary function be followed, and a graded hierarchical order exist between various associations, the greater will be both social authority and social efficiency and the happier and more prosperous the condition of the Commonwealth." (SS 79, 80.)
Can it be proved that all the functions which Sir William Beveridge suggests should be taken over by the State cannot be efficiently performed by smallet groups within the State?
3. Does not the Report almost rule out the necessity for vocational groups? Would it not he more in accord with the principles laid down in the Encyclicals for such things as unemployment relief, old age pensions, disability and housing benefits, etc., to be entrusted to the vocational councils? Does not Beveridge himself appear to rule out the guild system in such quotations as the following : " Socfel security must be achieved by co-operation between the State and the individual "?
4. If the Report were to be adopted would not injustice be subsidised? The first charge on industry is the payment of a just wage to all employees. If that were done, would there be a need for such large-scale State benefits?
5. Can the Report he reconciled with the following paragraph from a recent speech by Archbishop Downey?
" With reference to the White Paper . . . on family allowances, I consider that the principal purpose of any such scheme is an attempt to offset the weakness and evils of the current wages mechanism. Consequently, the first and most cogent of my opinions is by way of regret that the evils are not attacked at the root. Surely it is better to consider a reorganisation of the division of the product of industry on just lines rather than to perpetuate present injustice by applying a cure to the effects of tolerating an evil . . charity cannot take the place of justice unfairly withheld. . . I cannot approve in principle art ' all children scheme,' so long as such a scheme will tend to perpetuate scales of wages inadequate for normal family needs. . . I view with disfavour any spread of the ' ninepence for fourpence ' type of appeal. The attraction of ' something for nothing creates a bad social mentality. Again, the Government is not properly a provider but a regulator of provision. It has power and even the duty to assist when social justice among its citieens fails to adjust itself. This power and duty are not primary or absolute, they are dependent upon circumstances arising to establish the necessity for such action."
6. Does not teg Report, then. try to remedy evils without attacking the root of them? Is it not a kind of social anesthetic deadening the pain caused by injustice and preventing the victim from crying out in protest?
7. Would not such a scheme as that proposed in the Report if introduced be an incentive to unemployment and idleness and inefficiency tat work? If Unemployment were to cease to be dreaded, because of the State benefits provided for the unemployed, would the community benefit or not?
8. By adopting such a Report as this would not the community appear to be shirking its responsibility for ordering its economic and industrial system so that all employable persons might find work? Would not the large sums of money visualised in the Report be better spent on schemes for providing work and decent wages for every citizen?
9. Does not the Report assume that the injustices of the present capitalistindividualist system are to remain, and that the small man will eventually be crushed out of existence? Can this be reconciled with the programme of Leo XIII so forcibly set out in Rerun, Novarton for multiplying small properties?
10. How would St. Thomas Aquinas view the Report in be light of the following principle? : " The optimum in any government is that things should be provided for according to their own measure, for in this does the justice of an administration consist. Accordingly it would be against the principle of human government if men were to be prevented by the governor of the state from carrying out their own functions unless perchance for a brief time because of some emergency." (Contra
Gentiles, 3:71.) X. Y. Z.
ilVe do not find in the Beveridge Report either a denial of workers' responsibility and opportunities of ownership. or tile assertion of a conflicting social system. Either fallacy may, however, develop out of it and will have then to he fought. In the meantime, we approve healing measures which seem to be urgently necessary, and to avoid approval of the disease.-EDrma C.H.) HENRI GHEON
See-The following items about Henri Gheon's career may be of interest to readers, in view of the fact that, as ycei remarked in a recent issue, little is known of this playwright on the whole.
Gheon, though a baptised Catholic, soon lost his faith in the anti-clerical atmosphere in which he lived ; he was to recover it, however, after the last war, in which he took part and wrote a short apologia, L'Homme ne de la Guerre, in which he extolled the wonderful power of grace in the human soul.
With Andre Gide and one or two others, he had founded the Nouvelle Revue Francaise, in which many talented Frenchmen were introduced to the general public; two of his plays of a non-religious character had already been produced in Paris, but after his conversion Ghion utilised his gifts in the service of the Church by reviving the conception of the Christian theatre.
The idea was really suggested to him through visiting various Catholc institutions suchas the " patronages " and. confraternities in which " acting " was one of the activities; he realised the appalling mediocrity and puerility of the material generally provided for the eager, receptive audiences that attended them and so he founded the " Compagnons de Notre Dame," in which players of all ages, ranks and professions could take parts For these Gheon started writing plays based on Biblical subjects and on the lives of saints, in which particular attention was paid to the religious or irreligious background of the times and to the relevance of the lessons taught to our own day.
These representations were not only given in the usual recreational centres, but were eventually staged on open-alr platforms in front of churches.
Gheon's reputation soon spread outside France, he was invited to Spain, to Belgium. and in 1934 at Liege produced his Myst?re de In Messe. adapted from a work of Calderon'se) He made a special study of the Bolsbevist theatre and its methods of popular appeal, and was quick to recognise the propaganda value and the educational possibilities of this enterprise. It is certain that Gheon's technique has inspired those manifestations of faith which became a striking feature of such groups as the Jocistes; American colleges, too, have hailed his work and it is to be hoped that over here. the interest that is being shown in the performances of his plays will be maintained.
St. Maur, Weybridge, Surrey.
IRISH WORKERS THE CATHOLIC HERALD of November 28, your correspondent, Mr. J. J. Guckian, makes a somewhat misleading statement when he says that " men coming to work here (from Fire) under the Six-Months' Scheme, can return without even having an exitpermit."
To quote the present regulations: " The only ones exempt front the necessity of obtaining exit-permits are those seasonal agricultural workers who have been issued with return visas in Eire. In all other cases it is necessary to apply for an exit-permit to the British Passport and Permit Office."
Wrong information on this point has led to returning travellers being sent back from the embarkation ports to the Passport Offices, thus causing inevitable delay and consequent hardship.
F. PArroN. Chairman, M. 1. MOORE, Executive Officer,
Catholic Social Service Bureau, Liverpool.