Thursday, February 07, 2008

Capitalism and Communism Part Two

by Fr. Vincent McNabb


Look at the way they are wasting things in Russia-appalling. And the extraordinary thing is this, that waste of material is also waste of time. When you get a unit of human existence, a human individual, the most economic time-saving thing there is, there he is. But now you have got a person here and someone else there, and he has to invent the most infernal things to get ground. Waste of time! Consider the economic values consumed by the gentleman who merely punches a hole in a piece of cardbord-waste of time! It is almost essentially based on a waste of human life. If you waste time you are also implicitly wasting human life, and I think that is a terrible thing.

One of the things that proved that to me very much, and I think it is a sort of inevitable thing (mind you, specious arguments can be brought against it) was this. I remember studying profoundly a Medical Officer of Health's Annual Report-I have always found novels too dull. And I came across the most extraordinary law: that if you took the richer quarters of that town and the poorest quarters, you found the infant mortality was constant in all the towns, and it worked out almost to a mathematical equality as well as a constant. In all the Annual Reports that I read and studied found that it worked out that the infant mortality in the slum neighbourhoods was about four times as great as in the best-to-do neighourhoods. That is as if three out of every four of those children were killed at birth. That is part of the collective hypocrisy at the present time. We think we are very careful of human life. Waste of human life! It has defied the intelligent but well-meaning people to get any remedy. It seems to be a necessity of a system of mass production, the only primary thing of which would almost seem to be, if not the sin of avarice, some other sin-which would mean the denial of the supremacy of the spiritual, and by that I mean the intellectual. Therefore I feel myself that all that is in its essence immoral-against ethics; that it is very difficult to show it; that there can be the most excellent people in it; that I am not necessarily condemning anybody in it-possibly we are all in it.

I want therefore to enunciate that thesis, that I consider your Capitalistic or your Communistic organisation is, in its very essence, unethical, and that in the end it will bring a certain thing which the believer in God will call punishment, and which others can call what they like.

I think I owe it to myself and you to say that I do love little things because I love the greatness that is possible through them. The greatness of intellectual culture. I think sometimes that men and women who are little accustomed to intellectual culture, fear that by going back to things primary there is a danger of losing intellectual culture. I think that reason now is a little imperilled; that reason is one of the rare things in the modern world. I believe we shall not recover our reason until we get back to something simple in our modern life. We have to simplify so much of human life. And my invitation-which is the invitation of my Master-to something simpler, is like all His invitations, it is a Sursum Corda-Lift up your minds! Your very civilisation, your intelligence, is imperilled. I often think that your very ear for music is imperilled with the noises of your machines.

These islands, I think, took some of the music of the sea fret. They were almost unrivalled, I think, in their music. I think no people can sing so sweetly as those that listen here to the heart of the sea on our coasts, and I am terrified that we are losing that sensitive ear. Do you know I am terrified of losing even the msuci of our mother tongue. I have only one thing, my tongue, my voice, but it is of more value to me than ten thousand things that you produce by machinery; and I had rather hear you speak, and I had rather hear those south-west winds playing against my brow, than I would hear those things that some think a triumph.

I live almost in terror of our losing the culture that somehow or another was the gift of the old Pre-Christian days, and of the incarnate crucified Saviour. and when I went abroad to the great continent which used to be considered the be all and end all of social perfection, I almost fled. I wanted the music of the old language. I wanted the littleness of the English village. I wanted the home. I said of New York, "There are no homes: so I came home." And to-night I am only addressing a little thing, but I would rather address this voice of mine to your beloved intelligence than through some mechanical device of an age that was vast and vulgar.

Interview with Thomas Storck

On Cooperative Ownership

John Médaille Interview in Romania

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