WHENEVER writers in the secularist press have occasion to remember the existence of Catholic papers they invariably precede their criticisms by describing them as " reactionary."
' Because we refuse to accept State despotism in education we are " reactionary." Because wc were unable to equate the Bolshevik inspired conspiracy in Spain with democracy and liberty we were " reactionary." Because to-day some of us refuse to call the Russian State Christian and free simply because it is fighting magnificently in self-defence, we remain " reactionary."
In themselves these epithets mean little. We are proud to bc " reactionary " where it is a question of reacting against ignorance and evil, just as we are proud of being " revolutionary " when we stand for a rapid turning towards a new and better social order.
Unfortunately, however, in the present state of cliche-ridden mentality, it is enough to dub a cause " reactionary " to condemn it in the eyes of the public. And if it is true—as we believe it to be true —that only with the help and guidance of the Church can the present great changes in the world be directed towards constructive ends, it is a tragedy that specifically Christian leads should be put out of court before they are even heard through the mere abuse of words.
At the present time the discerning observer can distinguish two currents at work in the country. On the surface there is a highly unintelligent attempt to treat of the radical problems with which the world is faced in terms of the political categories of the pre-war period. On this level one distinguishes between Fascism and antiFascism. And under the term " anti-Fascism " one gathers together a whole host of pleasantsounding names, like Christianity, democracy, socialism, liberalism, the people, revolution and so on.
The war itself, of course, has tended to crystallise these conceptions and to make it appear that whatever can be associated with the enemy is Fascism and bad, and whatever can be associated with the United Nations is anti-Fascism and good.
All this is as far as the popular press and the popular platform publicists go, and since the general public rarely travels beyond these, It is as far as popular opinion goes.
But behind the scenes a more intelligent current can be noticed. It reveals itself in articles in more serious publications or even in an occasional more serious article in the weeklies.
At this level words like " revolution " and " reaction," Fascism and anti-Fascism, democracy and totalitarianism, even socialism, tend to be dropped, or if they are used, they are accompanied by fairly precise definitions.
At this level, too, the distinction between friend and foe is more carefully and plausibly analysed. Instead of being a distinction between political and social systems, it becomes rather a distinction between methods. Thus the Nazi recourse to brute force, persecution, and political tyranny is con trasted with the method of discussion and study and evolution in countries with a liberal tradition. Or again Nazi racialism is compared with tiie international ideals of the Allies. But it is recognised that the determination of the future order will be in terms of technical and economic needs, informed by a new common ideal, and a new understanding of values. not in terms of either the • old liberal-labour-socialist slogans, nor the Nazi bullying and racial extravagances.
We believe that it is only thinking, study and experiment at this level which can help to mould a new world and avoid the international anarchy which must follow from any attempt to order the future in terms of the old political and commercial categories and cliches.
And to this study Christianity has a great—indeed an absolutely essential—contribution to make. For it is a fact that no one can suggest any common faith or ideal under which the nations can get together in order to plan the future in the light of the realities of the future, except a faith whose inspir ation is Christian. Still less can they suggest any alternative philosophy which can restore to men the real values of life and work.
The old political democracy can have little relevance to an age whose problems are primarily technical and economic. Liberal capitalism envisages an order that is diametrically opposed to the new planned co-operation. Socialism is either a form of the old liberalism or it is tantamount to Communism, whose conception of order is as one-sided and as tyrannic as Nazism itself.
Christianity, on the other hand, has kept alive precisely those principles of the primacy of the person, created in God's image, and creator in his turn; of the hierarchy of society ordered for the essential conditions of the good life of the person according to Natural Law; and of the co-operation between all men, common children of God, which are the basic condition of any realistic technical planning that will not confuse means with ends and make of the planners an absolute, intolerable, and misguided bureaucracy.
Source of Inspiration
We do not suggest that the success of such a new order will be dependent upon the degree of specifically Christian faith that will inform it.
But we do suggest that in each of the leading countries concerned with the planning, with few exceptions, there has been preserved in the Church and among a greater Or lesser number of individuals still influenced by a Christian or ancient religious tradition the source of inspiration which can still permeate the peoples of those countries and the world as a whole.
That is why it is such a tragedy that in this country, for example, a country that must play a leading part in the future, if only because it is the link between Europe and America, the political and social lead that informed and thoughtful Christians seek to give should be rendered ineffective by stupid prejudices which spring from circumstances that belong to an old and dead world.
Not less of a tragedy is it that Christians themselves, too often, are content either not to think at all as Christians or to think solely in the categories of war, of capitalism, of business, of conservatism, of democracy, of labour, of socialism.
Our own motives are anything but a simpliste distinction between Catholics and anti-Christians, between anti-Bolshies and Bolshies, between Latins and Anglo-Saxons or Russians, between " reaction " and " revolution "; they are precisely our sense that the new order must be, first, realistic, up-to-date, and allembracing, and, second, inspired and guided by a common faith that Christianity alone can inspire.
We wish that in this effort we had more allies—enough to impress our fellow-citizens with the truth that Christianity (if such terms must be used) is " revolutionary " and not " reactionary."