THE Global Justice Movement Website

THE Global Justice Movement Website
This is the "Global Justice Movement" (dot org) we refer to in the title of this blog.

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

“A Euphemism for Muddle-Headedness”

As we saw in the previous posting on this subject, the tendency on the part of many people these days is to assume that others are guilty until proven innocent, and even twist — or invent — what somebody said in order to be able to convict them of whatever we want them to be guilty.  Especially if we are guilty of the very thing of which we are accusing others (d’oh).

"They'll Be a Hot Time in the Old Town Tonight!"
The bottom line, of course, is that one of the reasons people have rights is to protect them from people who don’t like them.  That’s why “innocent until proven guilty” is the basis of both civil law in the United States, and canon law or the equivalent in most religions.  It’s also why (for instance) that the Catholic Church regards “calumny” (spreading word that someone is guilty of something when you have neither the authority to judge nor absolute proof of guilt . . . and that means actual proof, not evidence — even good evidence — suspicion or dislike of your victim) as a “mortal sin” (i.e., one that sends you straight to H-E-Double Toothpicks unless repented and forgiven) that (and we quote) “cries to Heaven for vengeance” and for which “reparation” (repairing the damage done) must be made . . . not “would be nice,” but must.  The Catch-22, of course, is that calumny is something for which it is virtually impossible to make reparation, so it’s probably a good idea to remember that before you spread your stories or act as if someone is guilty without proof.  That “cry to Heaven for vengeance” is a little scary, too.
Knox: to the enthusiast, the ungodly have no rights.
Anyway, that covers the recap of what happened to Cardinal Pell, but we didn’t talk about the problem underlying calumny and perjury, even if you’re doing it for what you think are really good reasons . . . such as taking out someone you don’t like or attacking an institution you don’t like, or just for fun.  And what is the underlying problem?
The idea, as Monsignor Ronald Knox explained in his magnum opus, Enthusiasm (1950), that the “ungodly” (i.e., anyone who disagrees with you) have no rights, or at least none that need be respected . . . which sort of obviates the whole reason for having rights in the first place. . . .
Unfortunately, this idea — that anyone who disagrees with you is Hitler — is so pervasive in the modern world that it quickly gets extended to people who you think might disagree with you, then to people you dislike, then people you think you might dislike, then to anyone who is different and finally to anyone you think might be or become different.  All of this, of course, justifies (at least to yourself) whatever you do to those others, anything you want to do, and (of course) anything you might want to do in the future.
"I endorsed socialism? This is news to me!"
Thus, in the incident that inspired our writing on this subject when we “semi-corrected” someone’s comment that “capitalism causes socialism” by pointing out that socialism began as a replacement not for capitalism, but for Christianity, we weren’t arguing or even disagreeing.  We were giving additional information . . . which unfortunately upset people who think that socialism and Christianity are somehow compatible . . . which turned us into the ungodly.
A few people got so riled that they demanded proof of our statement, and insisted that we provide endless cites to support our claim (which we have done in a series of recent posts that they didn’t read).  This was despite the fact that those making the demands did not offer any support for their claims, viz., their contentions that C.S. Lewis and Cardinal Ratzinger approved or endorsed socialism.  We looked around and found what we guessed were the sources they used.
Amusingly, at this point other commentators nudged in and demanded actual cites to support the claims about Lewis and Ratzinger . . . from us.  Evidently they missed the part where we stated we were guessing.  The ones making the claims about Lewis and Ratzinger were let off the hook; the demand was that we make their case for them!
Chesterton: socialism is muddle-headed
As we saw in previous postings on this subject, it becomes obvious why G.K. Chesterton called socialism “a euphemism for muddle-headedness.”  (G.K. Chesterton, “There Was a Socialist,” G.K.’s Weekly, May 10, 1930.)  The comments about Lewis and Ratzinger were thrown in by the defenders of socialism to muddy the water and muddle the discussion.
As the work of Dr. Julian Strube and others has revealed, all early forms of socialism were obsessed with the idea of a “true Christianity” to replace the corrupt traditional sects, especially the presumably most corrupt, the Catholic Church.  In place of an ephemeral “Pie in the Sky” Heaven promised by traditional forms of Christianity, socialism — originally termed “the Democratic Religion” — worked to establish “the Kingdom of God on Earth” and achieve a perfect society in the here-and-now.
Henri de Saint-Simon and Félicité de Lamennais originally sought to reform Christianity by shifting the emphasis from the human person made by God, to the abstraction of a collective made by man.  Both Saint-Simon and de Lamennais left the Catholic Church and established their own “Religions of Humanity.”  After his death in 1825, Saint-Simon’s followers established “the Church of Saint-Simon”; one of his secretaries, Auguste Comte, also founded a “Religion of Humanity.”
De Lamennais: reinvented Catholicism
Robert Owen and Charles Fourier sought to abolish Christianity from the start.  Owen’s goal was to abolish religion entirely, along with marriage and family, and private property, as he made clear in his notorious “A New Declaration of Independence” speech in New Harmony, Indiana, July 4, 1826.  Fourier sought to establish “Associationism,” which (as Orestes Brownson noted) hijacked Catholic rituals and even language to serve the cause of socialism.
Early socialists were not hostile to capitalism.  Saint-Simon, de Lamennais, and Fourier all sought rich patrons and actively courted the wealthy in the hope of finding someone to fund their proposals.  Owen, himself one of England’s leading capitalists, at first sought patrons for his schemes, then government aid.  When that failed, he used his own fortune to finance the acquisition of the Rappite utopian community of Harmonie in southern Indiana, near Evansville, renaming it “New Harmony.”
Anti-capitalism appears to have been added to socialism by Étienne Cabet in his “Icarian socialism,” and developed into a dogma by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, the latter a wealthy capitalist.  Recent scholarship suggests that the more radical elements in Marxism came not from Marx, but from Engels; that Engels wrote more of, e.g., The Communist Manifesto (1848) than has traditionally been supposed.
In common with Owen, Marx (or Engels; it doesn’t matter for the purposes of this discussion) sought to abolish all religion, not just replace it with a new form.  Marx and Engels called their form of scientific (as opposed to religious or utopian) socialism by the older name “communism,” as they felt the followers of Robert Owen had preempted the term socialism.
So, yes, socialism opposes capitalism after a fashion, but to claim that Christianity and socialism are compatible simply ignores the facts.