Page 2, 20th June 1941

20th June 1941
Page 2

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Sts,—I am sorry Mr. Robbins should feel that I have been trying to bully him; and I am more than sorry that my type of mentality is the despair of Mr. Freeman, with the substance of whose letter I am in com plete sympathy. To the latter I would humbly suggest that well-fed slavery is an improvement on the ill-fed and semi-bestial slavery of J. L. and Barbara Hammond's " Town Labourer " or " Village Labourer" (1760-1832). As for the former, I roust confess I sometimes find it a little difficult to argue with people whose opinions appear to spring from some deep-seated conviction rather than from an intelligible process of ratiocination. At the same time I am at a loss to understand in what way I have been guilty of bullying Mr. Robbins " on matters," to quote him, " on which (naturally) 1 know better."

Your correspondent's all-consuming hatred of industrialism makes him nothing if not inconsistent. In one breath Mr. Robbins says (of himself), " none of my criticism is based on ignorance of technique "; and, in the next, he declares that " the modern factory can be run more effectively by slaves than by free men," If this is a sample of his knowledge of industrialism then I, for one, beg leave to doubt his categorical statement that he is, " after all, much nearer to its heart than Mr. Rissik, Mr. Benvenisti, or Mr. Belloc."

But that, as he would put it, is by the way. I entered this discussion with the object of trying to persuade those Catholics who think about social problems on the lines advocated by Mr. Robbins, of one thing only: So long as they cannot get beyond a discussion of doctrine they will inevitably lose the race of social reform to the socialists and humanists, led by Laski, Strachey, Hogben, Wells, and Sir Richard Gregory, and supported by P.E.P., the British Association, and " Nature." These highly intelligent folk got only know what they want, but they have very clear ideas as to what is practically possible and what is not, having regard to the world as we find It and not as we should perhaps like it to he.

In any case, are not Catholics already agreed upon their fundamental doctrine? So that it. is Mr. Robbins who, with his perpetual insistence on dragging us all back to this metaphysical starting-point, is begging the whole question of social advance in the Christian tradition, rather than Mr. Brech or myself. On what grounds can Mr. Robbins lay claim to being a more orthodox interpreter of Return Novarunt or, rather, of the practical conclusions to be drawn from it, than is Mr. Brech?

For once, in a discussion of this nature, let us get down to brass tacks. I defy Mr. Robbins to indicate any Catholic dogma, doctrine, or article of faith which condemns an industrial society as such, or which insists that a Christian social order must be non-industrial. In fact, I shall be so rash as to venture even further and to ask him to produce irrefutable evidence that a social order which chooses to retain the factory, the cinema, the radio, and the chain store as part and parcel of its economic structure is fundamentally incompatible with Catholie doctrine.

H. RISSIK. 88, Napier Court,

Burlingham, S.W.6.

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