It was the Faith which gradually and indirectly transformed the slave into the serf, and the serf into the free peasant. . . . You will not be able to set up in a pagan or an heretical or a wholly indifferent society the institutions characteristic of economic freedom; you will not be able to curb competition which alone would be sufficient to destroy such freedom, nor pursue permanently and consecutively anyone part of the program. The thing must be done as a whole, and it can be done as a whole only by the ambient influence of Catholicism.
Had there been any existent vital and energetic institution left in Society after the Reformation for the use of small property in coordinated form-that is, in combination, so that the average man's holding could be put to useful purpose in company with the holdings of a great number of other men of his own sort, the new evils would not have arisen.
We may not say to the poor: "You have a right to fight the rich merely because they are rich and in order to make yourselves less poor." We may say: "You have a right to fight to prevent the conditions of your life becoming inhuman," but we may not say, "You have a right to fight merely because you desire to have more and your opponent to have less."
Take the particular trick of false names. It seems to us particularly odious. We think when we show our contempt for those who use this subterfuge that we are giving them no more than they deserve. It is a meanness which we associate with criminals and vagabonds; a piece of crawling and sneaking...Men whose race is universally known, will unblushingly adopt a false name as a mask, and after a year or two pretend to treat it as an insult if their original and true name be used in its place.
It is Mind which determines the change of Society, and it was because the mind at work was a Catholic mind that the slave became a serf and was on his way to becoming a peasant and a fully free man-a man free economically as well as politically. The whole spirit of the Church was for small property, and that spirit was slowly, instinctively, working for the establishment of small property throughout Christendom.
Coupled with Usury, Unrestricted Competition destroys the small man for the profit of the great and in so doing produces that mass of economically unfree citizens whose very political freedom comes in question because it has no foundation in any economic freedom, that is, any useful proportion of property to support it. Political freedom without economic freedom is almost worthless, and it is because the modern proletariat has the one kind of freedom without the other that its rebellion is now threatening the very structure of the modern world.
The terror in which English capitalists now stand of organized proletarian resistance gives to the naturally protected craft organizations the power to receive the wages they demand. They act as they have been trained to act by capitalist society, which denies the doctrine of the Just Price, which proclaims work to be an evil and the goal of human endeavor to be the avoidance of it; which puts it up as an ideal that individuals should get as much money as they possibly can out of their fellows by any means in their power.
Consider in what way the industrial system developed upon capitalist lines. Why were a few rich men put with such ease into possession of the new methods? Why was it normal and natural in their eyes and in that of contemporary society that those who produced the new wealth with the new machinery should be proletarian and dispossessed?
Put you hand before your eyes and remember, you that have walked, the places from which you have walked away, and the wilderness into which you manfully turned the steps of your abandonment ... It is your business to leave all that you have know altogether behind you, and no man has eyes at the back of his head - go forward.
Economic freedom is in our eyes a good. It is among the highest of temporal goods because it is necessary to the highest life of society through the dignity of man and through the multiplicity of his action, in which multiplicity is life. Through well-divided property alone can the units of society react upon the State. Through it alone can a public opinion flourish. Only where the bulk of the cells are healthy can the whole organism thrive.
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