Page 6, 25th November 1938

25th November 1938
Page 6
Page 6, 25th November 1938 — IN THE MIND OR THE POCKET?

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Organisations: Distributist
Locations: Birmingham, Dublin


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Keywords: Distributism

Where Lies the Cause of Irish Emigration ?

Sno—I think it well to reply over my name to the criticism of my criticism of the address of my distinguished friend, Fr. E. Cahill, S.J.

It is a matter of personal judgment, when ray experience as a dweller in the countryside is challenged. Yet I repeat, that I have seen emigration by the score from a typical, prosperous, rural district, and not one example of emigration through material necessity among the lot. I have seen money increase while men decreased, and farmers unable to respond fully to the tillage revival for sheer lack of labour.

Where money is most plentiful', marriage is least. This was remarked by a Bishop in a recent address to Muintir na Tire, and it is a notorious truth. I raise my eyes from my desk to the broad view of a rural parish.

I see fields going back to heather and bracken, which were being reclaimed when Arthur Young toured this district, as he tells in his book. Wages were infinitesimal when those slopes were reclaimed. Today, men walk out of good fields, for jobs oversee.

The young men who are quitting are getting wages, when they will work on the land, just thme times what their parents married on, to rear families. In the last five years, I have seen men increase their earnings 50 per cent., yet save less than before the headlong wage increases began.

They are spending more—more on amusements, more on new clothes, more on tobacco and drink—under the influence of this modern plague, and yet they are worsefed and worse-dressed than their parents, preferring tinned rubbish and shoddy garments. Their cost of living has not increased of necessity, but it has in fact by the change of domestic habits. The bread-cart goes where it never went before, increasing the bread-cost to every household six-fold.

Any able-bodied young man who was prepared to work two-thirds as hard as his father, and married a girl who had her mother's manners, could thrive on the land now and save enough to give his children the best chance in life. However, this means Distributism, and Distributism is out of favour.

The campaign against the Bankers is right enough where the abuses that the Holy Father denounced are prevalent; hut those abuses are not the cause of Ireland's young men and women turning against rural manners and customs, so the campaign simply diverts Irish energy from its right objective.

The statement that our country people can't get work, and can't get money, is false to fact, and proceeds from people who have not lived in the countryside since the present Government carried out its sweeping works of reform. 1 write, of course, of economic districts, not of those congested districts in the West which Dubois called rural slums, rather harshly, but vividly. It is unfair to judge a Government or a country by the danmosa hereditas of the tenements in Dublin or the crowded areas among the rocks to which the Congested Districts people were driven from the fertile lowlands.

Congestion in the tenements and hardship in the congested districts are being worn down, but cannot be abolished in five years. These abnormalities must not confuse judgment of the country as a whole.

We need a Distributist movement, not necessarily under the name which &Hoc invented and Chesterton popularised; but a movement based on the increase of ownership instead of on the increase of money, which tends to make property fluid and men slaves.

Almost all the writers, and speakers who talk of monetary reform mean monetary increase. None of them, whose words I have come upon, want to restrict money. They all say: " Increase purchasing power," not " Increase power to produce for yourself and your family."

Now, every country with High Purchasing Power has a desolated countryside. In America, the farmers are suffering. In England, farmers hardly exist—there are only dairymen like Mr. Street. In France, people count in fractions of a farthing, because Purchasing Power is low, and you have a strong peasantry there. Increase money in France, and France will become like England.

In Green Europe, Purchasing Power is low, so it still pays to work your land and feed your children.

Is Ireland to follow the Credit Socialists and the Capitalists into industrialism and money-worship and crazy pleasure on the dole, or is she to seize on the first principle of Catholic Social Reform—the extension of ownership and the independence of the family unit?

I know of no organisation, save a political party, which champions the latter course.



rible things that Mr. Attwater details, who will not agree with him? If, on the other hand, the word embraces rightful conduct and heroic example, war cannot be condemned outright, like blackmail or arson.

Again, what is this fanciful demarcation between old wars and modern war? All the wars I have studied seem to come out of much the same bag, and the note of barbarous cruelty, of an outraged civilian population, and of the vicarious sacrifice of women and children is not confined to the post-gas and post-aeroplane epoch. Has Mr. Attwater studied the latter

stages of the Boer War, c. 1902? True, there was no " bombing" then; but what happened among the Boer farmsteads is not a pretty story. But perhaps this was a " modern " war!


A 6, Calthorpe Mans., Five Ways, Birmingham.

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