Great artistic talent in any direction... is hardly inherent to the man. It comes and goes; it is often possessed only for a short phase in his life; it hardly ever colors his character as a whole and has nothing to do with the moral and intellectual stuff of the mind and soul. Many great artists, perhaps most great artists, have been poor fellows indeed, whom to know was to despise.
Since it is to the advantage of the wage-payer to pay as little as possible, even well-paid labor will have no more than what is regarded in a particular society as the reasonable level of subsistence. The lower ranks of labor will commonly have less, and if public relief were afforded even up to the wage-level of the lowest ranks of labor, that relief would compete in the labor market; check or dry up the supply of wage-labor. It would tend to render the performance of work by the wage-earner redundant.
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Even if the wealth and power be well distributed throughout a community, its members will not be happy unless they are inwardly so, and obviously where the distribution is bad, where the few have a vast superfluity and the many are consumed by anxiety or want, or where a few controllers can exercise their will over the many, society has failed, even though its total wealth and power be increased.
Let us then repeat and firmly fix this main point: the evil, the root evil, of that to which the term Capitalism has come to be applied, is neither its functioning for profit nor its dependence upon legally protected private property; but the presence of a Proletariat, that is of men possessing political freedom, but dispossessed of economic freedom, and existing in such large numbers in any community as to determine the tone of all that community.
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Will not perhaps the temporal power of Islam return and with it the menace of an armed Mohammedan world, which will shake off the domination of Europeans - still nominally Christian - and reappear as the prime enemy of our civilization? The future always comes as a surprise, but political wisdom consists in attempting at least some partial judgment of what that surprise may be. And for my part I cannot but believe that a main unexpected thing of the future is the return of Islam.
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For no one, in our long decline,So dusty, spiteful and divided,Had quite such pleasant friends as mine,Or loved them half as much as I did. [stanza 3]The library was most inviting:The books upon the crowded shelvesWere mainly of our private writing:We kept a school and taught ourselves. [stanza 15]From quiet homes and first beginning,Out to the undiscovered ends,Theres nothing worth the wear of winning,But laughter and the love of friends. [stanza 22]You do retain the song we set,And how it rises, trips and scans?You keep the sacred memory yet,Republicans? Republicans?[stanza 36]
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An effort was made to spread this new materialist atheism with its Communist consequence "by the sword" (as the metaphor goes), that is, by the invasion of neighboring countries with consequent further massacres and the extension of the area of despotic Soviet control... This armed attempt at expansion was checked by Catholic Poland, the most immediately exposed victim, in what has been called "one of the decisive battles of the world.
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He [the poet] brings out the inner part of things and presents them to men in such a way that they cannot refuse but must accept it. But how the mere choice and rhythm of words should produce so magical an effect no one has yet been able to comprehend, and least of all the poets themselves.
Let me put it thus: that from the height of Weissenstein I saw, as it were, my religion. I mean, humility, the fear of death, the terror of height and of distance, the glory of God, the infinite potentiality of reception whence springs that divine thirst of the soul; my aspiration also towards completion, and my confidence in the dual destiny.
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The Barbarian hopes - and that is the mark of him, that he can have his cake and eat it too.He will consume what civilization has slowly produced after generations of selection and effort, but he will not be at pains to replace such goods, nor indeed has he a comprehension of the virtue that has brought them into being. Discipline seems to him irrational, on which account he is ever marvelling that civilization, should have offended him with priests and soldiers... In a word, the Barbarian is discoverable everywhere in this, that he cannot make: that he can befog and destroy but that he cannot sustain; and of every Barbarian in the decline or peril of every civilization exactly that has been true. We sit by and watch the barbarian. We tolerate him in the long stretches of peace, we are not afraid. We are tickled by his irreverence; his comic inversion of our old certitudes and our fixed creed refreshes us; we laugh. But as we laugh we are watched by large and awful faces from beyond, and on these faces there are no smiles.
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Mr. Orage, one of the most active and intelligent reformers for the last generation in England, attempted this very thing. He, in his little intellectual review which was supported by so brilliant a group of writers for so many years, published week after week the ingredients of the English patent medicines and the cost of those ingredients. Not a single one of the newspapers followed suit, or dared publish so much as the fact that Orage was thus acting courageously in his own limited sphere for the public good.
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But that is a method for cowards; the brave man goes out into the hall, comes back with a stick, and says firmly, "You have just deliberately and cruelly exposed my ignorance before this company; I shall, therefore, beat you soundly with this stick in the presence of them all." This you then do to him or he to you, mutatis mutandis, ceteris paribus; and that is all I have to say on Ignorance.
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.
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In the same way the eminence attaching to the mere possession of great wealth disappoints us nine times out of ten, especially if the wealth has been accumulated rapidly. For great wealth is accumulated rapidly by cunning or chance, or a mixture of the two. Cunning has nothing to do with high qualities; it is rather a presumption against them; while chance has nothing to do with them either. Therefore it is that men are always complaining after meeting So-and-so, that he seemed to be astonishingly stupid, though he made a million in ten years and started as a pauper.
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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?
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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.
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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.
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When the mass of families in a State are without property, then those who were once citizens become virtually slaves. The more the State steps in to enforce conditions of security and sufficiency; the more it regulates wages, provides compulsory insurance, doctoring, education, and in general takes over the lives of the wage-earners, for the benefit of the companies and men employing the wage-earners, the more is this condition of semi-slavery accentuated.
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In the form of security and sufficiency for the men who labor to the profit of others, and in the form of registering and controlling them in the form of an organized public supervision of their labor, slavery is already afoot. When slavery shall succeed it will succeed through the acquiescence of those who will be enslaved, for they will prefer sufficiency and security with enslavement, to freedom, responsibility, insecurity and the threat of insufficiency.
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Wherever the Industrial system has reached its second generation it is threatened by two mortal perils. The first is the demand by an organized proletariat for sustenance without relation to the product of its labor; a demand which threatens the very existence of PROFIT (on the necessary presumption of which Capitalism reposes). The second, and immediately graver danger is that of a revolt for the confiscation of the means of production.
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... But as a Godless greed pursued its career from excess to excess, it provoked a sort of twin hostile brother, equally Godless, born in the same atmosphere of utter disregard for the foundational virtues of humility and charity. This hostile twin brother of Capitalism was destined to be called Communism, and is today setting out to murder its elder.
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Communism worked honestly by officials devoid of human frailties and devoted to nothing but the good of its slaves, would have certain manifest material advantages as compared with a proletarian wage-system where millions live in semi-starvation, and many millions more in permanent dread thereof. But even if it were administered thus Communism would only produce its benefits through imposing slavery.
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It has unfortunately now become a habit for so many generations, that it has almost passed into an instinct throughout the Jewish body, to rely upon the weapon of secrecy. Secret societies, a language kept as far as possible secret, the use of false names in order to hide secret movements, secret relations between various parts of the Jewish body: all these and other forms of secrecy have become the national method.
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The propaganda of Communism throughout the world, in organization and direction is in the hands of Jewish agents. As for anyone who does not know that the Bolshevist movement in Russia is Jewish, I can only say that he must be a man who is taken in by the suppression of our deplorable press.
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."
Such are the mass of the supporters of either party. They derive their political opinions originally from some family tradition or some fanciful preference, but they back them with all the passion of sportsmen. In a vague subconscious way they know it is a game, but they happen to enjoy playing the game.
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.
Capitalism had arisen through the misuse and exaggeration of certain rights, notably the right of property - the basis of economic freedom - and the right of contract, which is one of the main functions of economic freedom. Therefore, even under Capitalism, so long as the old principles were remembered it was possible to recall the principles whereby Society had once been sane and well ordered.
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Ownership by delegation is a contradiction in terms. When men say, for instance (by a false metaphor), that each member of the public should feel himself an owner of public property-such as a Town Park-and should therefore respect it as his own, they are saying something which all our experience proves to be completely false. No man feels of public property that it is his own; no man will treat it with the care of the affection of a thing which is his own.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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But if we are to retain freedom, then we can only do so by keeping the determining mass of the citizens the possessors of property with personal control over it, as individuals or as families. For property is the necessary condition of economic freedom in the full sense of that term. He that has not property is under economic servitude to him who has property, whether the possessor of it be another individual or the State.
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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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Under the old social philosophy which had governed the Middle Ages, temporal, and therefore all economic, activities were referred to an eternal standard. The production of wealth, it distribution and exchange were regulated with a view to securing the Christian life of Christian men. In two points especially was this felt: First in securing the independence of the family, which can only be done by the wide distribution of property, in others words the prevention of the growth of a proletariat; secondly, in the close connection between wealth and public function.
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The society of Christendom and especially of Western Christendom up to the explosion, which we call the Reformation, had been a society of owners: a Proprietarial Society. It was one in which there remained strong bonds between one class and another, and in which there was a hierarchy of superior and inferior, but not, in the main, a distinction between a restricted body of possessors and a main body of destitute at the mercy of the possessors, such as our society has become.
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One man in one mood will attack Industrial Capitalism for its destruction of beauty; another for its incompetence; another for the vileness of the men who chiefly prosper under it; another for its mere confusion and noise; another for its false values; it was until recently most fiercely attacked for its impoverishment of the workers, its margin of unemployment and the rest - indeed so fiercely that it was compelled to seek palliatives for the evil. With a mass of men it was attacked from a vague but strong sense of injustice; it allowed a few rich to exploit mankind.
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The old freedom sufficiently survives in the mind of the wage earner to give him the illusion that, while accepting insurance and maintenance from the capitalist state, he can still be a full citizen. He thinks he can have his cake and eat it too. He is mistaken. The great capitalists who procured these regulations from the politicians knew what they were at. They were catching their proletariat in a net, and now they hold it fast.
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The smaller man approaching our modern banking system, which controls all issue of credit and therefore pretty well all our industrial and commercial activities, is not what the controllers of that credit call "interesting." He borrows with difficulty and upon high terms, and must pledge security out of all proportion to that which his richer rival has to put down.
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