Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Solidarism, III: Pesch’s Correction


Credit for founding solidarism is sometimes given to Father Heinrich Pesch, S.J. (1854-1926).  In light of the work of Émile Durkheim, however, it is evident that Pesch should, instead, be regarded as its redeemer.  His thought was directly opposed to that embodied in Das Katholisch-Soziale Manifest, which (according to Alfred Diamant, 1917-2012) was intended primarily to reconcile socialism with Catholic social teaching. (Ibid.)

Wish this guy had another photo.
Judging from similarities in language, Pesch began with Durkheim’s theories, in which, admittedly, there are some useful concepts.  He would necessarily have believed, however, that Durkheim’s opinions of both religion and of the human person, whether the latter is considered as an individual or as a member of society, to be directly at odds with the teachings of the Catholic Church.

Durkheim’s system embodied an overtly statist orientation and posited the abolition of the natural law.  Pesch evidently adapted Durkheim’s faith-based concepts to Catholic thought and brought them into conformity with the rational principles of Aristotelian Thomism.  In this way Pesch transformed solidarism from a liberal collectivist positivist philosophy, into a natural law, person centered system, avoiding the opposite extreme of conservative individualist idealism. (Richard E. Mulcahy, S.J., The Economics of Heinrich Pesch. New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1952, 6.)

Do we really have to explain?
Pesch's way agreed with Leo XIII that individual ethics and social ethics are both true, and are true in the same way.  He also assumed as a given that the collective cannot have any rights that are not delegated from the individuals who come together to form organized groups; the collective is a human creation, the State is made for man, not man for the State, as Durkheim had it.

#30#

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