We're So Afraid Of Being Anything Non
Democratic That— By WILLIAM J. RYAN.
[The Editor wishes it to he understood that the views expressed in these articles are purely personal and have not necessarily been adopted by the Catholic Heralde IT seems to me that in the matter of our own governments we Catholics of England and the United States not
only do not know where we're heading but we do not know in which direction we want to head. Most of our political thought either is deficient or lacks realism.
I apply the adjective " deficient " to two departments of thought which may be and usually are good as far as they go, namely, those covering analysis of OUT present evils and treatment of contemporary moves by our governments.
Of course it is a good thing in the first place to bring about greater understanding of what is wrong provided we realise that by itself it solves nothing; and, in the second place, it is good to keep an eye on day-to-day developments. In this connection we are dealing usually with palliatives or expedients which settle nothing. Moreover we should remember that only the doctrinaire Communist believes that it suffices for man to be well fed, well housed, and well clothed. It is when we try to supply the solution to our problems that we lack realism.
It is true that if men were better we should need to worry less about government but that is not political thought. man in general needs coercion; the mass of men never has followed and never will follow the counsels of perfection; religion and government have separate functions. Let's not confuse the two in this sort of vague idealism.
The Spell of a Word
The general ineffectiveness of our thought is due primarily, I believe, to our inability to shake off the spell of a word, and, at that, a word which has lost meaning, Democracy.
We are so afraid of being anything nonDemocratic that our thought is ham-strung right at the start. Of course every Catholic instinctively loves true democracy but it isn't the whole story of government. There is a place for aristocracy; there is a place for authority; and there is such a thing as hierarchy.
In order to strengthen ourselves by arriving at some positive and constructive ideas, some unshakeable principles we must open our minds to some new (or old) coricepts of government.
Leaving religion in its own field, we should concentrate on government, good government, the kind that suits Catholic men, and to arrive at Catholic conceptions of what good government should be we must think and feel as Catholic men.
This is difficult. The corruption we have lived in so long has had its effect. We have almost forgotten what it is to be truly Catholic. But is that any reason why we can't try to restore ourselves? Might we not find somewhere guidance in our attempt at revival?
Looking to Italy Suppose we could find a new form of government erected by Catholic men, a government which satisfies Catholic men, a government Which has solved the worst of our common problems, those of Industrial Capitalism, and which, last of all, passes the test of government, namely, whether its citizens are happy. If we could find a government like that shouldn't we be interested? Well, I believe we have it! In Italy, yes, Italy! where the people are happy, the Catholic people of Italy! Italy, the only large country in Europe where I am sure the people are happy.
And remember that not so long ago they were not happy. When Communistic mobs were battering down palace doors in Florence the Italians weren't happy. When chaos ruled in Milan and Turin, and red flags flew from the town halls of Bologna and Ancona the Italians weren't happy. But I repeat, they are today, because they found the cure for the very diseases from which we are suffering today. To learn how she has put the power of money under control, how she has stopped exploitation of the weak, how she has made the privileged take the responsibilities which should go with privileges? To understand that which, in her rise from anarchy to serenity and stability, has been even more important than these measures of ministration to the physical needs of her citizens, to understand her success in restoring to men their human dignity through satisfying their sense of personality. No longer are they cogs in a machine; no longer are they mere economic units. Ily a change in their juridical status they have become individual human beings as well as integral parts of an organic whole, members of that corporate entity called the State.
Things look bad in the " Democracies." We are drifting rapidly from bad to worse and we who are alive today may not live to see a turn for the better. But we might gain hope for ourselves and our sons if we could only understand that there may be at hand the means of our ultimate salvation.
Wou/dn't it be sensible for us to investigate Italy's cure?,