As we saw in the previous posting on this subject, John Henry Newman and the others of the Oxford Movement were confronted with something they were ill-prepared to deal with, and up to a point did not even realize what the real problem was. With the Industrial and French Revolutions a new idea had grown up regarding the real purpose of religion — and it did not have too much to do with God, as Fulton Sheen would point out in the next century.
|The French Revolution targeted old institutions.|
As more and more people became alienated from the means of being productive and thus participating fully in society, they became increasingly receptive to theories that blamed traditional forms of politics and religion as well as economics for their troubles. Few if any people realized that it was not traditional principles of politics, religion, and economics that were at fault, but how those principles were being applied.
For example, all forms of capitalism claim to be based on the sacred rights of private property. Private property is part of natural law, that is, is inherent in human nature. Every child, woman, and man therefore has by nature the innate potential to be an owner. There are, of course, “accidentals” that may preclude a specific individual for explicit reasons from becoming an owner or (more accurately) exercising the rights of ownership personally, but that does not change the fact that every single human being has by nature the absolute right to be an owner.
Capitalism claims to recognize this right, but then immediately starts to qualify it. Since in the state of society that followed hard upon the Industrial and French Revolutions it was painfully obvious that not everyone owned or could own capital (and even in a growing number of cases even own enough consumer goods), the capitalist theory became modified in many cases, being restated that while everyone has the right to own, only a relatively few people actually can own.
|William Hurrell Mallock|
Why? There are as many excuses as there are capitalists as to why some people can be owners and the rest cannot, far too many to list here. The most common one is that while technically everyone has the right to be an owner, most people lack that special something that sets an owner off from the common herd. This, by the way, was the opinion of William Hurrell Mallock, the nephew of Newman’s best friend . . . whose theory that some people had “superior brains” was shredded by the noted Fabian socialist George Bernard Shaw, who conveniently ignored Mallock’s devastating critique of the socialism of Henry George on which Fabian socialism is based. (Even George admitted, somewhat reluctantly, that Mallock’s critique of his, George’s, theories was the only one even worth considering. For someone with George’s ego, that was high praise, indeed.)
Nor are the capitalists the only ones with excuses. Socialists see that not everyone can own in the current condition of society and instantly assume not that lack of ownership is the problem, but that ownership must be abolished because some people abuse it. Of course, in common with capitalism, there are as many socialist theories as there are socialists. As Alexis de Tocqueville noted during the 1848 Revolution in France,
From the 25th of February onwards, a thousand strange systems came issuing pell-mell from the minds of innovators, and spread among the troubled minds of the crowd. . . . These theories were of very varied natures, often opposed and sometimes hostile to one another; but all of them, aiming lower than the government and striving to reach society itself, on which government rests, adopted the common name of Socialism.
Socialism will always remain the essential characteristic and the most redoubtable remembrance of the Revolution of February. The Republic will only appear to the on-looker to have come upon the scene as a means not as an end. (De Tocqueville, The Recollections of Alexis de Tocqueville. Cleveland, Ohio: The World Publishing Company, 1959, 78-79.)
|George Bernard Shaw|
Of course, what is behind the capitalist excuses and socialist proposals — as well as being the basis of both capitalist and socialist theories — is the fixed assumption, virtually a religious dogma (and held as such by some people) that it is impossible to finance new capital formation without cutting consumption below production and using the surplus (savings) to finance new capital. Once we realize that assumption is behind both capitalist distortion and socialist abolition of private property, it becomes obvious that private property is not the problem the socialists assume it to be, and neither is it something only for an élite as the capitalists assume.
Thus, it was not the fact of private property in capital that was causing the problems, any more than the principles of traditional political and religious institutions. It was the manner in which the principles were being applied, not the principles that was the problem.
Most people, of course, did not care about economic theories, the science of finance, theology, philosophy, or any other subject when they were starving. Something was wrong, and it was clear — to them — that the old ways had failed them. The answer? A reactionary return to a simpler life, abolition of old institutions, new institutions to replace traditional religious, civil, and domestic institutions, or some combination thereof.
|John Frederick Denison Maurice|
Leading the English “Broad Church” effort to re-purpose religion as well as the rest of society was John Frederick Denison Maurice (1805-1872), the acknowledged leader of Christian socialism in Great Britain, strong supporter of the innovations by Renn Hampden, and thus at the head of the party that opposed Newman and the Oxford Movement and the effort to return the Church of England to an orthodox Christianity. As he declared, “Christianity is the only foundation of Socialism, and that a true Socialism is the necessary result of a sound Christianity.” (“Maurice, Frederic Denison,” The Episcopal Church Library Glossary, https://www.episcopalchurch.org/library/glossary/maurice-frederick-denison, accessed December 3, 2018.)
Originally drawn to the Movement, Maurice had an absolute loathing amounting to a psychotic hatred — “an insanity of mind” — for anything smacking of “popery.” (S.L. Ollard, A Short History of the Oxford Movement. London: A.R. Mowbray and Co., Ltd., 1983, 118.) He saw any drift to or sympathy with Rome, whether in doctrine or in outward practice, as tantamount to an attack on both Protestant Christianity and socialism. Of course, Maurice’s form of Protestant Christianity differed significantly from that of the Evangelical churches as well as the Orthodox, Latin, and High Anglican churches, but that was carefully glossed over. As had been noted concerning Hampden’s theories, there existed considerable doubt as to whether Maurice’s religion was what was traditionally meant by “Christianity.”
Maurice cut all ties with the movement when he became convinced that its emphasis on reason illuminated by faith instead of faith alone, the supernatural character of the sacraments, and adoption of many of the outward practices of Latin Rite Catholicism were a betrayal of Protestantism. (Geoffrey Faber, Oxford Apostles: A Character Study of the Oxford Movement. Harmondsworth, Middlesex, UK: Penguin Books, Ltd., 1954, 347.) This, too, is rather odd, as Moritz Kaufmann linked the Neo-Catholicism of de Lamennias with Maurice’s Broad Church beliefs, suggesting that both were in full sympathy and agreement with one another in his book, Christian Socialism (1888).
|Freiherr Wilhelm Emmanuel von Ketteler|
Of course, Kaufmann’s assertions should be taken with a slight grain of salt, In the same volume he claimed that Freiherr Wilhelm Emmanuel von Ketteler, Bishop of Mainz (1811-1877), an opponent of socialism and a harsh critic even of workers organizing (he thought it led to atheism) was an “ultramontane clerical socialist,” whatever that might be.
Admittedly Newman was originally impressed with Maurice before he, Newman, surrendered his own anti-Catholicism. Prior to Maurice’s attacks on the Tractarians, Newman considered Maurice a man of great power and earnestness.
Becoming convinced that the Catholic Church and the Church of England were in essential agreement, however (a position he later abandoned after much reflection and became Catholic), Newman decided Maurice’s thought was “hazy.” Probably assisted by Maurice’s “horror” of non-Protestant Christianity and his attacks on Newman’s friend John Keble (Ollard, A Short History of the Oxford Movement, op. cit., 118-119), Newman quickly lost interest in Maurice’s writings (Edward Short, Newman and His Contemporaries. New York: Bloomsbury Publishing, 2011, 418.) and repudiated liberalism and socialism in fact as well as name. (Newman, Apologia Pro Vita Sua, op. cit., Note A, “Liberalism”; Essays Critical and Historical, Volume I. London: Longmans, Green, and Co., 1897, vii-ix, 173-178.) Charles Kingsley greatly admired Maurice, which led to Kingsley, considered the “prophet” of nineteenth century English Christian socialism, developing an intense hatred for Newman after Newman dismissed Maurice’s thought and undermined the Broad Church position of Hampden.
Weirdly, after Newman’s death some commentators referred to him not only as a socialist, but implied he was an associate of Charles Kingsley. (M. Oppenheimer, “A Romantic Career,” The Roanoke Times, October 20, 1898, 3.)