Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Capitalism and Communism Part One

by Fr. Vincent McNabb

As soon as you get mass production you are delivered over to the token. Now you have to think of that. If you have got a small house of your own, and you have got a few books, you know nearly all your hooks—you don't require a catalogue. You almost know where every book is. You may organise them in any way you like—and the fallacy of organisation is one of the most interesting studies in animal psychology. But if you have a large library you are delivered over to the token. The next thing is the expert—the token begins to have control. That is morally wrong. That is against the moral order which intelligence has placed in this world. An organisation, for instance, in which the expert of tokens is more important than the expert of realities, is morally wrong. The intelligent order of this world is the moral order. I cannot develop that: to me it is intuitive.

When you are getting, for instance, efforts actually made to internationalise all the tokens, you are only going to make it worse—it is going to be more immoral...against the moral order of things. Of course the moral order is a very intelligent order, and the intelligent order is a moral order. As soon as you get the very big thing you cannot deal in the realities. You cannot cart about 600.000 tons of potatoes, but you can put them on a piece of paper.

Now the whole of the modern world has been organised by the token person, and it is at the bottom of both Capitalism and Communism. That works out actually, historically, this way. The first movement is practically to destroy the economic basis of the world, which is the family...

The family began to be an encumbrance—as if the most important production was not reproduction! That has to be the unit: all the other things are incidental. A great deal of fuss is being made, for instance, about growing wheat. It is families that have got to grow, not wheat. Wheat is necessary for the families, not the families for wheat. They scrapped the family for the individual. Then the individual began to be scrapped for the thing—wheat, motor cars. By not a logical (a person should never use the word logical when he means psychological or economic: I hardly ever use the word logical because I have to be accurate)—by a psychological necessity they were driven to scrapping the family for the individual, scrapping the individual for the thing. at last scrapping the thing for the token. Until at last you get almost a mathematical formula. Mind you, a mathematical result. I am told it now costs three times as much to sell a thing as to make it! That is what you call efficiency. Therefore an organisation of things, an arrangement of things which will scrap the family for the individual, and go on to even look upon the token as primary, is an immoral syatem; it is against the moral order which is in the world, whether there is a God or not.

Here incidentally I may remark that the great Decalogue—the greatest contribution to human thought and action Which has ever been made, in a sense, and which Jesus only authenticated, was promulgated by a very highly intelligent group of persons who had sufficient strength of intelligence and of will to go out of a capitalised and servilised country—Egypt. They recognised that the organisation of Egypt, which was exceedingly efficient—so efficient that I believe the furniture would compare favourably with the Tottenham Court Road—was wrong. There you have a moral thing. I will go on to a further immoral thing

If I hit the Chairman over the nose in a fit of abstraction, that is a very simple relationship. It is a relationship between two moral agents. It is a perfectly simple relationship; perfectly simple, visible, and it can be proved-though I might find it difficult to prove that I did it in fit of abstraction. Now that is a very simple relationship; and whenever you want to think, thinking consists in getting simple principles, and you may get simple principles in ethics by going back to something simple. Supposing he had attempted to hit me in self-defence: that is quite easily proved and that is a simple arrangement. But now, if you get a complication by your own will, in which it is very difficult to prove when you have done something unjust, that is a wrong principle, that is an immoral arrangement.

Now that is an extraordinary thing of the world to-day as arranged under Capitalism and Communism. No one is, in a sense, responsible for anything. You have gone away from the family and you have now arranged the world with the big mass thing in which it is impossible to lay the injustice of anything almost at the door of anybody...

I will go still further. There is a sense—you will quite understand it—that the title to property (I mean of the adult) is the making of something...But once you get the great mass organisation, which is the very dream of the Capitalist State, who makes what?...

If you have an organisation in which the title to property from work and the making of the thing is practically impossible, your organisation is wrong--it is against morals —it is ethically unsound. It is difficult for people to see- very difficult. But I think the argument is apodictic.

I myself discovered what I consider one of the greatest principle you can discover, and that I discovered when I was scraping about in England. You then see the primaries. I saw a primary—that when you get back to primaries you need never waste a moment of time or an ounce of material. That is one or the most important principles for judging of what I call the ethical evil of both Capitalism and Communism—for they are both essentially based on waste.

I was demonstrating it the other day to a person who wanted to see things. I said, Supposing there is a dozen acre field and you have got a tractor to plough it with. It doesn't pay you to go into the little corners—you will go round and round. Curiously enough you will notice that modern things always go round—they don't go into corners. To me that is apodictic—it proves it is morally wrong. It does not pay those who have got a 600 acre field to take all that time going into the corners. It does not yield token.' Do you know, he got so confused about that. And I regret to say it was a fellow-priest of mine who was reported to have made this appalling remark. He said. 'I am told there is no living in wheat...' It takes some time to see that. If that was the ultimate intellectual attitude towards the truth, it would almost qualify that person to be certified as a C3. What is meant by that is, curiously enough, that if you grow large quantities of wheat. you do not get a number of tokens. That is all that is meant.

The modern mass production of various things is organised on the calculation of how large a waste they can allow; for instance, out of a 600 acre field. . . it will pay mass production to neglect say an acre. To cultivate that acre would put up the costings. If you divided that into small economic things there would not be an ounce or a square yard wasted. Your big mass production is essentially organised on waste, and you will find that the bigger the organisation the more waste they can allow for. That is against. the moral order of the world.

Interview with Thomas Storck

On Cooperative Ownership

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