The old pagan idea that the state is everything and owns everything, so as to leave the individual man without any right except such as is conceded to him by the state – that old pagan idea has been adopted by the socialist. That idea is distinctly contrary to natural law as well as to the law of Christ. That idea is absolutely antagonistic to our ideas of home. It would change our home into a mere lodging-house, where are fed and sheltered the submissive vassals of the State. Socialism has taken up that pagan idea and pushed it even further than the pagan. For the pagan left the father, home’s master, and left the wife and child at home. Socialism would ruin the home firstly, because it would rob the father of the home, of his God-given right to be master in the citadel of his home; secondly, because it would banish home’s queen from what ought to be her kingdom; it would break the marriage bond which alone can safeguard the innocence and the stability of the home; it would make the wife of the home practically a tenant at will; thirdly, because it would kidnap the child.
The intelligent reader will note that the reverend critic is entirely incapable of grasping the conception of a state in which the people should rule instead of being creatures of an irresponsible power, as the people were under the pagan powers of Rome, to whom he is referring. He says, “It (Socialism) would change our home into a mere lodging-house where are fed and sheltered the submissive vassals of the state.” Thus it is that he cannot clear his mind of the monarchical conception of the state; a state which should be a social instrument in the hands of its men and women, where state powers would be wielded as a means by the workers instead of being wielded as a repressive force against the workers is so strange an idea to him that he simply cannot understand what it signifies. The reader who understands this, and perceives the enormous gap in this clerical reasoning, will understand also that all the terrific bogies which our critics conjure up as a necessary result of the Socialist state are – only bogies.
This attempt to develop this theory of the state plunges him into a mass of contradictions. Read:
The first and most fundamental principle of ethics is that whereas amongst lesser creatures physical force or animal instinct impels each thing to act as is befitting its nature, to act in the actual circumstances, so as to achieve the right order of its kind and the right end of its existence, man, not flung forward by unreasoning power, but led by reason’s light, contemplates the order of relations that are around him, and weighing their relative necessity or importance, acts so that his action shall be in keeping with his own nature and in harmony with the right conditions in which his life is cast. Now, right and duty are the moral aspects of these fact-relations, and have their moral force according to the deeper order and more fundamental necessity of these fact-relations which are the cause of their existence and the measure of their power. The reason for man’s personal rights is in his actual existence. Hence, such rights are paramount above all. The reason of the family is in the insufficiency of man alone to secure the right development of human nature. The reason of civil society is in the insufficiency of the family alone to attain that fuller perfection of human nature which is the heritage of its birth, but which it can only reach through the help of many homesteads united into one common weal. Hence, civil society is only intended by nature to be the helper of the family, not its master; to be its safeguard, not its destroyer; to be in a right true sense its servant, but in no sense its owner. Hence, those Socialistic theories which would hand over the family and the individual to the supreme command of the state are false to reason and rebel against right. Rather it is the interest of the state itself to recognise that its welfare and its security rest upon the right, independence, and deep-rooted stability of the families of which it is the flower and the fruit.
A state that is tossed about in its social and political existence by the fluctuating tide of transient individual opinions, ambitions, actions, cannot have that healthy, hardy, deathless spirit which vivifies into the same life not merely the chance companions of a day, but the successive generations of a nation.
Surely here is a Daniel come to judgment! We had to read this passage over several times to satisfy ourselves that it was not a quotation from a Socialist writer, instead of what it purports to be – a part of the discourse of the reverend gentleman himself. For it is the reasoning upon which is built that materialist interpretation of history the lecturer has so eloquently denounced. If the reader will turn to the first lecture he will see that the doctrine of Marx, as explained by Father Kane, teaches that the economic conditions in which man moves, governs or determines his conceptions of right and wrong, his social, ethical and religious opinions. Father Kane there denounced this doctrine in his most violent language. Now, in the part just quoted, he himself affirms the same doctrine. He says:
The first and most fundamental principle of ethics is that … man not flung forward by unreasoning power, but led by reason’s light, contemplates the order of relations that are around him, and weighing their relative necessity or importance, acts so that his action shall be in keeping with his own right nature, and in harmony with the conditions in which his life is cast. Now, right and duty are the moral aspects of these fact-relations, and have their moral forces according to the deeper order and more fundamental necessity of those fact-relations which are the cause of their existence and the measure of their power.
If this is not an affirmation of the Socialist doctrine that our conceptions of right and wrong, and the political and governmental systems built upon them, have the “cause of their existence and the measure of their power” in the “fact-relation” of man and his fellow-man and not in any divine or philosophical system of mere thought, then language fails to convey any meaning. The remainder of the quotation quite as effectually cuts the ground from under the lecturer’s own feet. Observe the last sentence: “A state that is tossed about in its social and political existence by the fluctuating tide of transient individual opinions, ambitions, actions, cannot have that healthy, hardy, deathless spirit which vivifies into the same life not merely the chance companions of a day, but the successive generations of a nation.” Is not this a lifelike picture of the capitalist state and its endeavour to build a system of society which seeks a healthy national existence and social conscience in “transient individual opinions, ambitions, and actions”, instead of in an ordered co-operation of all for the common good of all? The whole passage we have quoted is essentially Socialist, and opposed to that capitalism its author defends. If the doctrine of economic determinism is heresy, then Father Kane was preaching heresy from the pulpit.
As if conscious of his slip our critic immediately makes haste to divert attention by a lurid description of the “socialist doctrine of divorce”. Socialists as such have no doctrine of divorce, but a little inconsistency like that does nor deter our opponents.
There is no Socialist government in the world to-day, but almost every civilised nation has divorce laws, and the least Socialist nations and classes have the most divorces; America and its capitalist class, for example. Our clerical friends proceed upon the maxim of their sister profession, the lawyers – “When you have a bad case abuse your opponent’s attorney”, and hence the constant attempt to slander Socialists upon this point. Now, what is the real truth on this matter? It is easily stated. Socialists are bound to agree upon one fundamental, and upon that only. That fundamental is, in the language of Father Kane, “that all wealth-producing power, and all that pertains to it, belongs to the ownership and control of the State”. Hence, upon all other subjects there is, and will be, the widest possible diversity of opinion. Divorce is one of those non-essential, non-fundamental points upon which Socialists may and do disagree. But observe this. The law-making authority for Socialists is their national and international congresses; the law-making authority of capitalism is its Parliaments, chambers, congresses, reichstags, etc. Nowhere has a national or international congress of Socialists imposed divorce upon Socialists as something they must accept, but in almost every capitalist state the capitalist law-makers, the spokesmen and defenders of capitalism, have established divorce as a national institution. Who, then, are the chief supporters of divorce? The capitalists. And who can come fresh from the divorce courts, reeking with uncleanness and immorality, to consummate another marriage, and yet know that he can confidently rely upon Catholic prelates and priests to command the workers to “order themselves reverently before their superiors”, with him as a type? The capitalist.
The divorce evil of to-day arises not out of Socialist teaching, but out of that capitalist system, whose morals and philosophy are based upon the idea of individualism, and the cash nexus as the sole bond in society. Such teaching destroys the sanctity of the marriage bond, and makes of love and the marriage bed things to be bought and sold. Can it be wondered at that such teaching as that which exalts the individual pursuit of riches as the absolutely necessary cement of society should produce a loosening of all social bonds, including that of marriage, and threaten to suffocate society with the stench of its own rottenness? Yet it is such capitalist ethics and practice our priests and prelates are defending, and it is of such Father Kane arises as the champion and expounder.
Certain Socialists, horrified at this rising stream of immorality, have sought to find a remedy in the proposal that marriage be regarded as a private matter over which the state shall have no authority. They do so as individuals, and many equally good Socialists believe that such an idea is flatly opposed to the Socialist philosophy; but in itself the proposal carries none of that loathsomeness the critic imputes to it. It is an insult to the entire human race to say that husbands and wives are only kept together by law, and that women would become mistresses of one man after another if the law did not prevent them. Yet this is what Father Kane said:
Divorce in the Socialist sense means that woman would be willing to stoop to be the mistress of one man after another.
A more unscrupulous slander upon womanhood was never uttered or penned. Remember that this was said in Ireland, and do you not wonder that some Irishwomen – some persons of the same sex as the slanderer’s mother – did not get up and hurl the lie back in his teeth, and tell him that it was not law which kept them virtuous, that if all marriage laws were abolished to-morrow, it would not make women “willing to stoop to be the mistress of one man after another”? Aye, verily, the uncleanness lies not in this alleged Socialist proposal, but in the minds of those who so interpret it. The inability of Father Kane to appreciate the innate morality of womanhood, and the superiority of the morals of the women of the real people to that of the class he is defending, recalls to mind the fact that the Council of the Church held at Mâcon in the sixth century gravely debated the question as to whether woman had or had not a soul, and that the affirmation that she had was only carried by a small majority. Many of the early Fathers of the Church were, indeed, so bitter in their denunciation of women and of marriage that their opinions read like the expressions of madmen when examined in the cold light of the twentieth century. Origen said: “Marriage is unholy and unclean – a means of sensual lust”. St. Jerome declared: “Marriage is at the least a vice; all that we can do is to excuse and justify it”, and Tertullian, in his hatred of women, thundered forth boldly that which Father Kane dared only insinuate: “Woman”, he preaches, “thou oughtest always to walk in mourning and rags, thine eyes filled with tears of repentance to make men forget that thou hast been the destruction of the race. Woman! thou art the Gates of Hell”. Thus throughout the centuries persists the idea of the churchmen that women can only be kept virtuous by law.
In his further quotation Father Kane is equally disingenuous. Thus:
Listen now to one of the great German Socialist authorities, Bebel, who, in his famous book, Die Frau, wrote:
Every child that comes into the world, whether male or female, is a welcome addition to society; for society beholds in every child the continuation of itself and its own further development. It, therefore, perceives from the very outset that its duty, according to its power, is to provide for the new-born child … It is evident that the mother herself must nurse the child as long as possible and necessary … When the child waxes stronger, the other children await it for common amusement under public direction.
Behold their plan: All boys and girls, as soon as they are weaned, are to be taken from their parents and brought up, boys and girls together, first in State nurseries, and then, boys and girls together, in state boarding schools, but brought up without any religion whatever. Thus the child would grow up a stranger to its father and mother, without the hallowed influence of a happy home.
The reader will observe there is nothing whatever in the words quoted from Bebel which justifies the statement that the child is to be taken from the parents, or brought up a stranger to its father and mother, or without the influence of a home. There is simply the statement that it is the duty of the state to provide for the care, education, and physical and mental development of the child. All the rest is merely read into the statement by the perverted malevolence of our critic. And yet this same critic had declared, as already quoted in this chapter, “the reason of civil society is in the insufficiency of the family alone to attain that fuller perfection of human nature which is the heritage of its birth”. But when he comes across the Socialist proposal to supplement and help out that “insufficiency” he forthwith makes it the occasion for the foulest slanders.