Page 3, 29th December 1944

29th December 1944
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Page 3, 29th December 1944 — Liberalism
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Liberalism

THE NEW RELIGION

The Church and the Liberal Society. By Emmet John Hughes. (Princeton

University Press. HUTI1pDrey Milford. 20s.)

Reviewed by the REV. S. J. GOSLING

FIRST let us put down these woros in a row . Liberty, liberal, liberalism, freeaom, clemooacy. inen naveig tetre,stieu our memories with a dictionary or some oiner objective definition, let tie examine our own Mental reflexes as we allow each word to slip quietly oil the tongue. An interesting experiment, is

not ? showing probably some marked divergences betweee tne dictionary deunitions and the accretions due to our historical reading, ow political teas, or our religious and philosophical associa

tions on good housekeeping advise its that after we have gathered and stored out apples we should examine them at frequent intervals so as to remove all tainted fruit, for one decayed specimen will quickly infect others until the whole storage becomes rotten. We badly need a cosmic housekeeper to keep watch and ward over our words and temove all those that have deteriorated and become a danger to their neighbours.

All these quoted words once wore a noble mien and were capable of inspiring generous minds to great deedsand now ? " Liberalism " has gone beyond all hope of recovery: " liberty " is tainted (when the exDuce could shout to the applause of his braves. " Liberty is dead and the corpse stinks !") " Liberal " is in a bad case. Even that grand word " freedom " is in danger when a modern writer can define it as " the power to do what you want to do." Think of the philosophers, the moralists, the politicians, the theologians who have spent their lives cultivating the _true concept of freedom for man's Use and profit, only to see the fruit of their labours thrown by this irresponsible dictum on the rubbish-hcap, there to breed corruption and chaos.

YET the ideas that these words enshrined and once expressed-the ,things themselves-remain sound and true : what has happened ?

This book records the history of one such tragedy. It is a brilliant essay on the Humanistic plot to liberate man from his dependence on his Maker and to restate the relationship between than. Religion is mainly the elaboration of the relationship between the Creator and the creature, expressed in terms of creeds, dogmas, morals and ritual worship; the New Religion Undertook to anise these terms and to make the resulting contract unilateral, depending for its sanction solely on one party to the contract, man himself: that is the whole essence and meaning of the theory of Private Judgment.

Even if this was not the conscious intention of the Reformers, it was certainly the result of the Reformation, and the modern Liberal of no religious

allegiance cannot disavow his religious parentage, "for," as our author says. " in the final analysis any politicoeconomic theory (Including Liberalism) must rest on a specific conception of man and his true destiny. And any religious conception of the nature of man 'and his true destiny (including Catholicism) must be capable of translation into a guide lot man in his life in human society on this earth."

HERE we see, before hostilities begin, " the two protaganists balanced lot the fray. And here we can foresee the first inevitable casualties " liberty** and " freedom " in their Christian meaning. It is no part of Mr. Hughes' case to assume the truth of Catholicism. He is only concerned with the course of the battle and its conclusion. It is true that he holds that Liberalism has lost and the Liberal Society has failed ; but that does not necessarily mean that the Catholic Church has won. Rather, it is as though we read. as we are reading and realising daily. that Germany has lost this war but that the United Nations have not won the peace; there are parties and factions operating in the wake of the victorious Allied armies whose sinister activities arc fully as dangerous to European peace as the domination DI the German armies.

So with Liberalism, as a politico economic philosophy, it is in eclipst now but other political theories have arisen to take its place either fostered by it or begotten in revolt against it: these, too, the Church Militant must continue to oppose.

I HAVE tried, as succinctly as I. know how, to indicate the thesis and general tenor of this brilliantly executed study of "the world's debate." If words oi mine could add to the number or readers they should be forthcoming to any extent. But space is precious; 1 should like to quote but have room fat only one passage, the one in which the author speaks of the great institutional change that followed the Reformation and thus describes it: " The substini. lion of the unity of money for the unity of faith. International bonds had formerly sprung from an intellectual and religious harmony which found its con. crete representation in the Vatican. lit a world free from the domination of the Church and swept by new economic forces, not popes but the international financiers became the men whose wills and deeds commanded the respect, if not the total allegiance, of nations, Hardi and Peruzzi, Medici and Fugger: it was they who took up the stations. once filled by popes, behind the thrones of nations." And a little later : " Spiritual values. religious truths. moral absolutes find no place in this world; they are left for investigation by men In the monasteries, as one leaves toys for idle children in the nursery and then goes about tlw day's arduous business."

Is there any ti tier description of the world of Economic Man ?




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