doubt. The Socialism which was condemned by the Popes was a Socialism containing two points totally irreconcilable with Christian teaching. The first point was its formal and practical secularism. The second was its denial of the right to private property.
Any social philosophy which formally excludes God and the supernatural order is condemned. Liberalism, in the philosophic sense of the word, is condemned equally with Socialism.
The Socialism of which the Popes were thinking was certainly the Marxist Socialism which is formally and in its practice secularist and anti-God. And when people ask why Capitalism was not condemned in the same terms, the answer is that Capitalism is not normally conceived of as a philosophy. It is an economic system or habit, and under this head many of its practices have in fact been condemned.
The second point for which Socialism was condemned was its denial of private property. This is not quite so easy to apply, but the meaning is clear enough. Man has the right to the private possession and control of so many of God's gifts as he needs in order to be fully a person. If the State or society, even for his good as it thinks, turns him into a numbered robot, he ceases to be a person. A man's freedom ceases to be actual if there remains nothing to him about which he can be free. And the Popes have made it clear that any social or economic system, whether it be Socialism or the practice of a capitalist world, which forcibly deprives a human being of property through which he can exercise responsibility and freedom, is to be condemned.
But if a controversy on the subject of Catholics and Socialism, restricted to the interpretation of words, is largely barren, the same camaol be said of Christian study as to how far the traditional Catholic teaching applies to the world in which we find ourselves.
Under both heads, secularism and the denial of the substance of freedom guaranteed by the enjoyment of private property (in the widest meaning of the words), the contemporary world ever more closely threatens the Catholic.
Secularism and secularist values are predominant to-day. So much so that the distinction in this regard as between Bolshevism and the social outlook in the Western democracies is mainly one between what is in effect persecution and the tolerance of private idiosyncrasies. That tolerance, however, is of the greatest value, for it offers to Catholics the freedom to be apostles. In the midst of a collapsing world, with greater numbers than ever wondering as to the meaning of life, Catholics are still afforded an opportunity so great that it caused Pius XI to rejoice that he was born in such an age The pity of it is that so very few seem to respond, and that so many seem content to support uncritically the established secularist order when they might be working for a new one in Europe and in our own country.
In regard to the regimenting and robotising of individuals, Catholics will probably continue to differ among themselves about the degree to which this is consistent with Christianity. But wc suggest that a distinction should be made between such compulsion and socialisation as are the result of theory and such as follow inevitably from the technique of modern industry. For our part we do not see how it is possible in modern society with its high standard of living and mass industrial organisation to solve the problems of unemployment and insecurity and division of wealth and opportunity generally without an immense degree of State compulsion. And so long as the purpose is to keep this down rather than increase it for its own sake and to preserve what is essential to human freedom, we think that support for State or social compulsion is the lesser of two evils.
It is a very different matter when theorists urge Socialism as the proper way of forcing beings made in the image of God to be free and contented. That is the Servile State—an intolerable insult to God Who made man and to man himself