MARTIN C. KYNE, C.I.O. DELEGATE, TELLS US WHAT'S WRONG
By BILL IGOE
".I got in France—as elsewhere—the impression that Catholics are afraid to take off their jackets, afraid to dirty their white collars.
"Frankly, I feel I have learned more from my spare time reading of Catholic philosophy than from any school. I ever attended."
These were two typically blunt statements made to me by Martin C. Kyne, C.I.O. Delegate to the World Trade Union Congress, when I spoke to him this week after his short visit to the Continent and to Ireland.
Martin Kyne, Catholic and Catholic Actionist, is Executive Vice-President of the American Union of Department Store Employees.
Our conversation naturally turned on the Catholic participation in the Labour movement all over the world.
" One thing is needed for the Catholic going into the Labour movement," Kyne said. " He must know the fundamental valuation placed on man by his faith. He must know what the Catholic way of life represents, freedom for all men and justice for all men. He Must seek first the Kingdom of Heaven with the certainty that in doing so all other things will follow. He must regard all men as the images and likenesses of the God he is seeking. If he does that he will be.spreading the gospel of Social Jus
tice and furthering its development." ,
He described his own experience. first in the Lk.A., then to America as a car-salesman and supervisor of a department store.
" But the itch for social justice had got into my blood," he explained. " I had to do many things in my job which I considered unjust. In disgust I nearly flung it up. Then I decided what I would do: I encouraged those under my supervision to form a union. They took me at my word and when they had organised themselves immediately elected me their leader. My employers canned ' me, but i had found new hosses—the workers of the American. department stores. They have been model employers.
" My work for them has taken me into strange places. During the past few years I have investigated Labour conditions in Bolivia, have represented the C.I.O. in England and France, have assisted in the organisation of our own war effort at home in the States. and managed to get back to my birthplace in Ireland to find that we of the old Republican Army were mistaken when we thought we had lost our war. We won it and only the complete victory of economic independence remains for Ireland."
" What do you think is the main problem facing the Church in this field ?" I asked him.
" Ignorance," he replied. " I mean the ignorance of the ordinary Catholic."
"We 'must tackle the problem of Catholic education. At present education in the democracies too often destroys the social conscience of the citi
zen. The Catholic idea that society is a co-operating unit of men, each with his own duties and rights, should he' the very centre of our education. Frankly, I feel I have learned more from m3+ spare-time reading of Catholic philosophy than from any school I ever attended. Modern colleges prepare a man for acareer,' and a ' Career' in the modern meaning ng of the word means that you are trying continually to be better than the other fellow instead of.trying to live with your fellow. citizen.
VISIT TO FRANCE " 1 have just returned from France. It is my opinion—but remember mine was a short visit—that the Communists can control the French Trade Unions effectively whenever they wish.
"The Catholic Trade Unions I found, on paper, quite strong; in fact I got the impression that ihey were quite remote from the realities of the situation. They were too respectable. The Communists had made great strides during the Resistance. They were down in the trenches fighting.
" / got in France, as elsewhere, the impression that Catholics are afraid to take their jackets off, afraid to dirty their white collars.
" I intend to ..do all I can • to help the Catholic Trade Unions of France when I get back to America, but they, like Catholics the world over, are hanging back too long.
IRISH FREEDOM Rack to Ireland. I asked Mr. Kyne what he thought of his native country's prospects.
" Ireland at the moment," he said " compares very favourably with the • other countries of Europe. This for obvious reasons which include the lack of war destruction. The farmers are prosperous. The . people are well-fed and clad. Ireland is a happy country. But we cannot stop with that rather superficial impression.
" Why must so many Irish lads and girls leave home for work abroad ? We must face that unhappy fact. No country which is having its youngest and—
in a very important sense-'-best drained away into foreign labour markets is in a position to claim that its society is sound.
"Again, I don't like Ireland's political freedom being attained so completely and no attempt made to build towards its economic freedom. So long as Ireland accepts the domination of the Bank of England. Ireland's freedom is only a token.
GEARING MONEY TO PRODUCTION " Let Irishmen listen to the voice of Dr. Dignan, priest and real economist, when he says : ' Commence with a general survey of all natural resources which should then be deVeloped to their utmost on a Scientific and modern plan.'
" That's the foundation," Kyne emphasised. " What have we got at our disposal, and what can we make of it so we may ensure decent living condilions for ourselves, our friends and our families? First things first in economics as in life and religion.
" And this applies not only to Ireland but to the British Empire and America, We arc the custodians of the democratic way of life. We boast freedom. We are opposed—we Catholics both by the duties of our faith and our democracy—to Fascism, totalitarianism of any kind If we don't ensure normal material conditions in our countries for the workers they will fling our token freedom in the gutter, the proper place For bogus things, and tragically turn to the degradation of the Animal State. America and Britain must co-operate on the necessary refetrms, co-operate or see the way of life our people cherish depart for 'good.
" I think it can be done, but it will require a revolution.
" We must get back to fundamentals. Can we produce enough for the needs of the world ? I speak in world terms because I believe we have a responsibility to every living man, woman and child alive to preserve their dignity from
the sordid poverty I have seen. We have shown what miracles of production we can accomplish in wartime. We have insatiable markets at home and abroad. The people of India, the people of the South Americas, the Pacific peoples, the people of England, America, Scotland, Wales, their needs are great. They are our markets. What stops them from implementing their needs in the market-place is that they haven't the money to purchase goods. Give them the money. Gear credits to production, as I have read in the work
of a British economist—an engineer. Take the control of credit out of the hands of the banks. Place it in the hands of the electtd representatives of the people and educate yourself to' the point where you can. with confidence. call to account your representatives.
" Be motivated by the Catholic
ChurAji's burning demand for human justice; be guided by the Catholic Church's divine philosophy ; be a reyoknionary against any system which metes out less than their due to men who are our brothers wider God; that's what being a Catholic Actionist mealis, We are in the centre of revolution. Let's get into the trenches."