From the pontificate of Gregory XVI down to the present day, there has been an ongoing crisis precipitated by the advent of the “New Things” (rerum novarum) of socialism and modernism. Since 1832 and the development of Catholic social teaching as a distinct field within the Magisterium, the public face of Catholicism has been shaped by the Church’s response to these “novelties.”1 This is not surprising, given the relentless effort to change what it means to be Catholic and, at times, human.
Using faith, instead of reason applied to empirical evidence, to discern knowledge of God’s existence and the content of the natural law is the basis of the New Things. Admittedly, as Aquinas noted, reason must be guided and illuminated by faith. This is because most people simply do not have the time or other resources to reason these things out for themselves and necessarily take them on faith.2
This results in one of the most subtle dangers of modernism and one of the most obvious threats of socialism. Those whose faith, whether religious or secular, is not anchored in reason inevitably conclude that “might makes right.” Whoever has the strongest faith — or the ability to force his faith on others — must be the unquestioned authority . . . until someone stronger comes along.
With no objective, absolute, reason-based standards or fundamental principles, anything goes, even (as Ven. Fulton Sheen pointed out) to the point where man, God’s creation, recreates God in man’s image and likeness.3 God changes from the absolute, transcendent, Supreme Being, to a conditional, immanent, Subservient Becoming.
A Temporary Compromise
Following the death of Pius IX, reactionaries and radicals angled to seize control of the conclave to elect the next pope. Reactionaries wanted someone to return them to a mythical Medieval, centralized, all-powerful institutional Church. Radicals wanted a leader to transform Catholicism into a freethinking, modern, devolved movement. After the longest papal reign in history, everyone wanted a short pontificate.
Unable to reach a decision, the different factions agreed to a compromise to buy time to surface viable candidates. As a stopgap, the College elected the elderly and seriously ill Cardinal Archbishop-Bishop of Perugia, Vincenzo Gioacchino Raffaele Luigi Pecci, whom everyone (including himself) expected to die within a few weeks. Taking the name Leo XIII, Pecci survived to have the second-longest pontificate in history until that of St. John Paul II.
Never in the best of health, the new pope worked tirelessly to implement the reforms of Vatican I. His goal was to repair the damage done by socialism and modernism in both civil and religious society.
Continuing the work of Gregory XVI and Pius IX, Leo’s first encyclicals explained the errors of modern society (Inscrutabili Dei Consilio), pinpointed socialism as the chief danger (Quod Apostolici Muneris), and prescribed reason guided and illuminated by faith as the principal remedy for the New Things (Æterni Patris). These and other encyclicals presented a framework within which people could become virtuous and prepare themselves for their final ends — if they had the power to do so.
“Power,” however, as Daniel Webster pointed out during the Massachusetts Constitutional Convention of 1820, “naturally and necessarily follows property.” Given the economic conditions of the nineteenth century, ordinary people were losing power at an accelerating rate. Small ownership was disappearing, and the value of human labor as an input to production was declining in competition with advancing technology. Lacking access to money and credit, most people were unable to purchase the machines that were depriving them of their traditional livelihoods.4
Frustrated and angry, people turned away from organized religion that seemed to offer only empty promises. They demanded governments “do something” to take care of people.
In response, modernists sought to reorient Christianity to focus on material needs at the expense of sound doctrine. Socialists advocated completely new forms of religion or its abolition, with the Catholic Church a special target for reform or elimination.
The Game Changer
Matters appeared to have reached a stalemate when an unexpected series of events changed everything. It began when the agrarian socialist Henry George decided to run for mayor of New York City as the United Labor Party candidate. Abram Stevens Hewitt was the Democratic candidate, while the Republicans selected a relative newcomer, Theodore Roosevelt, Jr. All three ran on a reform ticket to clean up the shambles left by Boss Tweed and his successor, “Honest John” Kelly.
What George hoped to accomplish as mayor remains unclear to this day.5 There is a possibility that he entered politics as a publicity stunt to sell more copies of his Progress and Poverty, one of the two most influential American socialist books of the nineteenth century. (The other was Edward Bellamy’s Looking Backward.)
If marketing was George’s original motive, however, it soon grew into something more. As far as the unchurched Protestant George was concerned, the campaign became a contest of wills and a showdown between the outdated and anti-American Catholic Church, and himself as the prophet of the New Christianity.6
George, whose theories inspired the formation of the Fabian Society,7 believed that only humanity, not any individual human being, has the right to own anything created by God.8 “Humanity,” however, is an abstraction made by man, not by God. God is omniscient and does not abstract.9 Evidently, it did not occur to George that his theories made man greater than God.
Father Edward McGlynn, whose advocacy of socialism and modernism disrupted the New York Archdiocese for years, had joined George a few years before. Archbishop Michael Corrigan and his predecessor, John Cardinal McCloskey, had warned McGlynn repeatedly to stay out of politics. Given direct orders by Corrigan to take no part in the campaign, McGlynn obeyed, after a fashion. He accompanied George throughout the campaign, but carefully refrained from speaking in public.
Despite his apocalyptic speeches and appeals for a reformed, socialist Catholicism, George lost the election to Hewitt. Clinching Hewitt’s election, Republican bosses instructed their people to vote Democrat, breaking their promise to Roosevelt. Roosevelt never forgave them, especially when the final tally revealed that he might have won. A quarter century later, the Republican Old Guard pulled a similar stunt in the 1912 presidential race to prevent Roosevelt’s election and secure that of Woodrow Wilson.
Even though Horace Greeley declared that the election was the cleanest New York had seen in years,10 George and McGlynn claimed George’s loss was due to a conspiracy by venal Church leaders and corrupt politicians.11 Corrigan issued a pastoral letter condemning socialism, consisting largely of quotes from Quod Apostolici Muneris, but without naming either George or McGlynn.12 In response, McGlynn made speeches and published articles, while George started a newspaper, The Standard, that from the first issue repeatedly attacked the Catholic Church for its stand against socialism.13
Leo XIII summoned McGlynn to the Vatican to explain himself. At first, McGlynn said he would go, but then allowed George to talk him out of it. Initially, this was on the grounds that no good American would ever accept any authority that did not come from the people. Later, he gave poor health as the excuse.
As the situation heated up, Corrigan sought the advice of Bishop Bernard John McQuaid of Rochester. Among other things, McQuaid pointed out that George’s claims of having been endorsed by Bishop Thomas Nulty of Meath, Ireland, and Edward Cardinal Manning of England were false and misleading. Nulty had repudiated George years before,14 while Manning wrote two open letters to the New York newspapers denying George’s assertion that the Church had never taught private property in land is a natural right.15
It was then that the seed that eventually became Rerum Novarum appears to have taken root. As McQuaid wrote to Corrigan, “McGlynn’s defense that his doctor forbade him to go to Rome comes too late. The Holy Father will probably issue a dogmatic decision on the question. The worse George writes against you, the better for you. Many of their poor people have been led astray by the use of the names of Cardinal Manning and Bishop Nulty.”16
After repeated warnings, in May 1887, on orders from the Vatican, Corrigan informed McGlynn that if he did not go to Rome as instructed, he would be excommunicated for disobedience. McGlynn again ignored the summons and was excommunicated July 4, 1887, effective July 5 due to the holiday.
Buildup to Rerum Novarum
Efforts were made over the next four years to persuade McGlynn to meet two conditions and be reinstated, viz., go to Rome as originally ordered to explain his views on socialism, and apologize to those whom he had insulted. It is important to note that McGlynn was excommunicated not for holding socialist views, but for refusing to go to Rome to explain them.
Both George and McGlynn were now in decline, although for different reasons. McGlynn found that as a rebellious priest he made headlines, but as an excommunicate he was usually relegated to the back pages on the infrequent occasions journalists deemed him newsworthy. As for George, his attempt to enter politics marginalized him as a political philosopher and he became just another failed socialist politician.
For the next few years both men strove to get back into the limelight. George worked to advance his political career while McGlynn attacked the Church whenever possible. His favorite themes were the Church’s anti-Americanism (manifest in the new parochial school system17), the persecution to which he was subjected for being a socialist,18 and the knavish imbecility of the Catholic hierarchy.19
At one point, due to George’s pursuit of a political career, some people saw McGlynn as a stronger proponent of George’s ideas than George himself. As both men had large egos, this caused a breach when George decided to run for president, a move McGlynn saw as a betrayal.
The quarrel became acrimonious when McGlynn announced his own candidacy in opposition to George. This was to demonstrate McGlynn’s fidelity to the principles he claimed George had abandoned. Matters did not improve when it turned out people were more amused by their antics than they were edified by their ideas.20
At the same time, increased efforts were made to return McGlynn to obedience and get him to agree to the conditions for lifting the excommunication. These always failed due to McGlynn’s ego and the fact that he never passed up an opportunity to air his mostly imaginary grievances. When popular interest in his speeches waned, McGlynn claimed attempts were made to bribe him.21 When that failed to get him enough attention, he made speeches attacking everyone from Corrigan to Leo XIII in terms that outraged both Catholics and Protestants.22
Meanwhile, Leo and a team of scholars began work on the encyclical that would be known as Rerum Novarum. While not the sole or even primary reason for the encyclical, the McGlynn case and the worldwide attention it attracted clearly showed the inadequacy of previous attempts to deal with the New Things. If nothing else, McGlynn served as a graphic demonstration that a new approach was needed.
The Evolution of Catholic Social Teaching
Gregory XVI’s 1832 Mirari Vos introduced encyclicals that addressed an entire paradigm instead of being limited to a single issue. In it, the pope identified and condemned certain “novelties” that endangered Church and State. His later social encyclicals expanded on this, notably Singulari Nos in 1834, in which, for the first time, socialism and modernism were referred to as rerum novarum, “New Things.” Gregory did not, however, go beyond a philosophical and theological analysis of the situation.
Pius IX, who almost certainly read Alexis de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America, added political reform to the Church’s social magisterium. Pius’s personalist, American type of liberal democracy, however, came into direct conflict with the radical European collectivist version. His efforts to provide a democratic political model in conformity with Catholic teaching failed due to the 1848 revolutions and Sardinia’s subsequent conquest of the Papal States. Radicals labeled Pius a reactionary for resisting socialism, creating a Leyenda Negra that persists to the present day.
Even before his election, Leo XIII knew that lasting political democracy can only be built on a foundation of economic democracy. Only an economically free people can sustain a truly free and just society, regardless of its specific form. That is why as papal governor of Perugia before being ousted by the Sardinian takeover, he started the Perugia Savings Bank, capitalized primarily with his own money. His idea was to enable workers to save and purchase farms or businesses. This would shift them from dependence on wages, to independence based on capital ownership.23
Unfortunately, few people then or now understood Leo’s goal. Most socialists and modern economists assume that only human labor is productive and thus creates value. In Keynesianism, for example, capital as the non-human factor of production, whether land or technology, is not itself productive. It only provides the environment within which human labor can produce.24
This “labor theory of value” accounts for the socialist doctrines that private property in capital must be abolished, and that wages paid for labor are the only legitimate source of income. Ownership income, except to recover the labor cost of forming capital, is surplus value stolen from workers and consumers. “Property,” as the anarcho-socialist Pierre-Joseph Proudhon declared, “is theft.”
Leo realized that countering the evils of society required a new approach. Gregory XVI’s philosophy and Pius IX’s politics were of little or no interest to people caught between the upper and nether millstones of capitalism (defined here as concentrated private ownership of capital) and socialism. People turned to the New Things and followed demagogues like George and McGlynn because socialism and modernism offered hope for a better life now, not in some vague and shadowy afterlife.
Then, on May 15, 1891, Leo XIII released Rerum Novarum.
“On Labor and Capital”
Understanding the context in which Rerum Novarum was written helps to gain a proper appreciation of Leo XIII’s achievement. Philosophy and politics alone were not effective in countering the New Things. An alternative to socialism was essential if the Church was to regain lost ground.
A new approach would allow the Church to guide the formation of a justly structured social order in conformity with principles of natural law.25 The goal was to provide a suitable environment in which people could become virtuous, that is, more fully human.
Leo was aware of the importance of private property in securing respect for human dignity and empowering people to acquire habits of doing good. He therefore made widespread capital ownership the cornerstone of his social teaching.26
Such a proactive social agenda by the Church was unprecedented, and it took socialists, modernists, and capitalists completely by surprise. They had expected the usual condemnations (and got them), but not an alternative to socialism’s abolition of private property or capitalism’s concentration of it in the hands of a few. Still, despite the revolutionary nature of this new type of social encyclical, Leo’s argument was straightforward:
- The political and economic situation is such that the non-owning working classes — Leo did not restrict his program to workers alone — are struggling under “a yoke little better than that of slavery itself.”27
- To alleviate this, the socialists propose to abolish private property and give the State total control over human life. They confuse justice and charity, overthrowing the natural law.28
- Private property, however, is a natural right, inherent in every human being. Furthermore, the State was made for man, not man for the State.29
- Although the socialists mandate collective ownership and redistribution as a matter of justice and a way of life, it is instead a moral duty under charity and cannot be coerced, except in extreme circumstances as a temporary expedient in an emergency.30
- Ownership of capital is the natural way to make a living. A just social order at all levels of the common good assumes the validity, even necessity of the institution of private property in capital.31
- “The law, therefore, should favor ownership, and its policy should be to induce as many as possible of the people to become owners.”32
Leo then listed three major benefits that would accrue from a program of widespread capital ownership. One, ownership will be more equitably divided, ameliorating social and economic differences, bringing the different classes together based on their common humanity. Two, because people work harder and more effectively when they own, everyone will participate in an increased material prosperity. Three, people will seek to improve their lot in their own countries instead of abandoning family and friends to immigrate. His Holiness then reminded politicians that oppressive taxation not only militates against these benefits, but, because private property is a natural right, is also contrary to justice.33
The remainder of the encyclical considers various things that should be done in the then-current state of society to improve conditions while restructuring the social order. These include fair pay and benefits, better working conditions, the right of laborers to organize, government assistance when necessary, and so on.
Leo’s understanding of finance was not as advanced as his philosophical, political, and economic thought. He assumed the only way for non-owners to become owners is to consume less than they produce and accumulate the excess as money savings. In wage system terms, this means workers must be paid enough so that they can afford to save to purchase capital.
Increasing wages without increasing production, however, raises costs so that workers and consumers are often worse off than before. This allowed both capitalists and socialists to sidestep the main issue. They wrote off Leo’s prescription as unrealistic or prudential matter and declared that the focus of the encyclical was wages, not property.
Despite capitalists, socialists, and others criticizing and reinterpreting Leo’s tremendous accomplishment, attempts were made to implement the program. Notable among these was “distributism” proposed by G.K. Chesterton and Hilaire Belloc, although it was characterized as a goal instead of a specific program: a policy of widely distributed ownership, with a preference for small, family-owned farms and businesses.34
It would not be until the 1950s and the publication of Louis Kelso’s and Mortimer Adler’s book The Capitalist Manifesto that a morally sound and financially feasible method of funding expanded capital ownership was presented. Still, without Rerum Novarum, the groundwork would not have been laid, as Adler acknowledged in his preface.
• Related at CWR: “The Story of the First Social Encyclical” (July 19, 2022) by Michael D. Greaney
1 Mirari Vos, §§ 7, 10, 14, 21.
2 Ia, q. 1, a. 1; Cf. G.K. Chesterton, Saint Thomas Aquinas: “The Dumb Ox”. New York, Image Books, 1956, 126.
3 Fulton J. Sheen, God and Intelligence in Modern Philosophy: A Critical Study in the Light of the Philosophy of Saint Thomas. New York: IVE Press, 2009, 320.
4 Staff, “If the Machine Wants Our Jobs, Let’s Buy It,” Editorial, Life magazine, August 14, 1964; Hilaire Belloc, The Servile State. Indianapolis, Indiana: Liberty Fund, Inc., 1977, 100-101.
5 Henry W. Farnam, “Progress and Poverty in Politics,” The New Englander and Yale Review, Vol. 46, No. 205, April 1887, 340.
6 Edward R. Pease, A History of the Fabian Society. New York: E.P. Dutton & Co., 1925, 20-21.
7 Ibid., 28.
8 Henry George, Progress and Poverty. New York: The Robert Schalkenbach Foundation, 1935, 333-346.
9 Ia, q. 14, aa. 12-13.
10 “How City Votes Were Cast. The Day of Election Fine and Quiet.” The New York Tribune, November 3, 1886, 1.
11 Henry George, Jr., The Life of Henry George. New York: Doubleday and McClure Company, 1900, 480-481.
12 Rev. Michael A., “Pastoral on Occasion of the Fifth Diocesan Synod, November 17th and 18th, 1886,” New York Freeman’s Journal and Catholic Register, Vol. 47, No. 39, November 27, 1886.
13 “Mr Davitt and Mr Henry George,” The Glasgow Herald, January 18, 1887, 5.
14 “The Most Rev. Dr. Nulty,” New Zealand Tablet, March 17, 1882, 13.
15 “Henry George’s Theories. Cardinal Manning Tells of His Talk with George About Them.” The New York Times, December 18, 1886.
16 Letter of January 22, 1887, from McQuaid to Corrigan. University of Notre Dame Archives.
17 Edward McGlynn, “The New Know-Nothingism and the Old,” The North American Review. August 1887, Vol. 145, Issue 369, 192-205.
18 J.U. Heinzle, S.J., “Galileo Galilei and Dr. McGlynn,” The Catholic World, October 1887, Vol. 46, No. 271, 110.
19 “Religious Disintegration,” Deseret News, April 28, 1890, 2.
20 “Dr. McGlynn and Mr. George: Former Master and Pupil are Very Much at Odds,” The New Evening York World, February 11, 1888, 1.
21 “Defiant McGlynn. Henry George’s Ex-Partner Says He Is Still On the Warpath,” Sacramento Daily Record-Union, December 3, 1888, 1.
22 “Look On This Picture And On This,” Waterbury Evening Democrat, January 13, 1888, 2.
23 Rev. Bernard O’Reilly, Life of Leo XIII, From an Authentic Memoir. London: Sampson, Low, Marston & Co., 1903, 108-109.
24 John Maynard Keynes, General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money. VI.24.i-iii.
25 Quadragesimo Anno, § 76.
26 Cf. Fulton J. Sheen, Freedom Under God. Arlington, Virginia: Economic Justice Media, 2013, 33.
27 Rerum Novarum, §§ 1-3, 15-16, 19, 21, 25, 27, 32-38, 47-48, 55, 60. 62.
28 Ibid., §§ 4-7, 12-15, 17, 30, 35, 47, 53.
29 Ibid., 6-9, 11-15, 35, 45, 47, 51-52.
30 Ibid., 4-11, 15, 22, 30, 38, 46-47, 53, 57, 58.
31 Ibid., 4-11, 12-13, 22, 35, 47.
32 Ibid., § 46.
33 Ibid., § 47.
34 G.K. Chesterton, The Outline of Sanity. Collected Works, Volume V, San Francisco, California: Ignatius Press, 1987, 45.
If you value the news and views Catholic World Report provides, please consider donating to support our efforts. Your contribution will help us continue to make CWR available to all readers worldwide for free, without a subscription. Thank you for your generosity!
Click here for more information on donating to CWR. Click here to sign up for our newsletter.
“It did not occurr to George that his theories made man greater than God.” It is a fundamental tenant of Freemasonry, immortalised in the Social Democratic Party’s Nazi Flag, which Hitler stated was made for him by his friends in Munic. The Tulle Society – a curious band of freemasons with deep Jewish hatred. Wikipedia. Hitler was also a member of the Berlin lodge. A man I met on a train once confided both pages missing from the two lodge members books were on display in the main lodge in Buenos Aires. Of all places…
The flag: a square – which represents man – scattered to the four winds. Inside a circle, which represents God. Compass and square. In the Nazi flag, move the bottom compass back up, and the top square down and you will realise it is a simple inversion of the Masonic Standard compass and square hidden in plain view, and that they have hidden from all school text books with esoteric nonsence. In politics, there is not a man called George with ideas. There is nearly always a highly organised band, with a puppet called George. And they have funny handshakes.
Is it true that Pope Leo XIII “made widespread capital ownership the cornerstone of Church Social Teachings “? If by this it is meant private capital ownership, a palliative elaboration is due in the pre-existing angst that The Church has been partial to Western Capitalism and it’s more recent manifestation in Corpocracies – ie The Modern Global Economy is run by Multinationals, not just of their own overwheening ambitions, but the conjoining of politicians selling their representative mandate for finding, popularity, short termism. The result is has been very socially and economically costly boom busts of financialization -“inequality within and between nations”, underinvestments in the real economy, from regulatory capture and of late social instability within nations.
In that context, it is questionable if Rerum Novarum has succeeded beyond pushing back socialism. I think Pope Pius XII encycials could with and eloboration on Roosevelt slant been most corrective and centrering theologically of Church Social Teachings.
Communal ownership, Mom and Dad shops, Family Enterprises, Social Cooperative Investment Enterprises as The Social Economy or The Third Economy Sector, are these not the key pillars of the 6 Social Teachings of The Church that should be raised and seen through in polity by Catholic Leaders and Thinkers?
Thanks for a good piece
One century after Rerum Novarum (1891), a further development is offered by Pope St. John Paul II in Centesimus Annus (1991):
“In our time, in particular, there exists another form of ownership which is becoming no less important than land: THE POSSESSION OF KNOW-HOW, TECHNOLOGY AND SKILL [italics]. The wealth of industrialized nations is based much more on this kind of ownership than on natural resources” [….] It is precisely the ability to foresee both the needs of others and the combinations of productive factors most adapted to satisfying those needs that constitutes another important source of wealth in modern society” [….] …the ROLE of disciplined and creative HUMAN WORK and, as an essential part of that work, INITIATIVE AND ENTREPRENEURIAL ABILITY becomes increasingly evident and decisive” [….] …today the decisive factor is increasingly MAN HIMSELF, that is, his knowledge, especially his scientific knowledge, his capacity for interrelated and compact organization, as well as his ability to perceive the needs of others and to serve them” (n. 32).
Note, too, the wording “needs” to be “served,” rather than appetites.
Jesus never condemned Caesar on his wars, crucifixions, or welfare programs. Caesar would have killed Jesus if He had done so. Instead, Jesus gave His followers parables like The Sheep and the Goats, The Rich man and Lazerous, and told the rich man to sell everything and come and follow Him, if he wished to enter into eternal life. God the Father had Commanded His Faithful to tithe to care for the needs of the poor. Jesus reiterated His Father’s Commandments to care for the poor.
I grew up in an era, 1960s to today, where my priests primarily only focus on secular social justice issues. Let’s face it, Catholics ‘Do Not Like It!’ when priests talk about money.
I figure that God’s Commanded tithe on our 2 billion Christians of today, is about a trillion dollars a year. I think a trillion dollars a year, from today’s Christianity, out of love for Jesus through caring for the least of Jesus’ brothers, would end world poverty. I figure our 2 billion Christians of today only give 20 to 40 billion dollars a year to care for the world’s poor Lazerouses. I figure Pope Francis and his 2 billion Christians genocide millions of poor Lazerouses a year through lack of proper Christian tithing (LUKE 16:19 The Rich Man and Lazarus).
MATTHEW 25:41 Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you accursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink… …’Amen, I say to you, what you did not do for one of these least ones, you did not do for me.’ And these will go off to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”
I figure Millions of poor Lazerouses are murdered a year through lack of proper Christian tithing. Jesus tells His Followers that He is going to burn them in hell for not properly caring for the poor. So why don’t we hear Pope Francis preaching to his 2 billion Christians to repent? Preach repentance to save millions of poor Lazerouses from being murdered by Christianity’s lack of proper Christian tithing, and preach repentance to save rich Christian’s souls from Jesus having to burn them in hell for their hatred toward Jesus, through failing to love Him through caring for the least of Jesus’ brothers.
Pope Francis, and his 2 billion Christians, are like the Priest and Levite in Jesus’ ‘Good Samaritan’ parable. 330 million Good Samaritan American Taxpayers are presently donating a trillion dollars a year to help our domestic poor, and 48 billion dollars a year in foreign aid, while Pope Francis leads his 2 billion Christians to the other side of the road and passes the poor by.
Luke 10:29 The Parable of the Good Samaritan. Jesus replied, “A man fell victim to robbers as he went down from Jerusalem to Jericho. They stripped and beat him and went off leaving him half-dead. A priest happened to be going down that road, but when he saw him, he passed by on the opposite side. Likewise a Levite came to the place, and when he saw him, he passed by on the opposite side. But a Samaritan traveler who came upon him was moved with compassion at the sight. He approached the victim, poured oil and wine over his wounds and bandaged them… …Which of these three, in your opinion, who was neighbor to the robbers’ victim?” He answered, “The one who treated him with mercy.” Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.”
LUKE 16:19 The Rich Man and Lazarus
“There was a rich man who dressed in purple garments and fine linen and dined sumptuously each day. And lying at his door was a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, who would gladly have eaten his fill of the scraps that fell from the rich man’s table. Dogs even used to come and lick his sores. When the poor man died, he was carried away by angels to the bosom of Abraham. The rich man also died and was buried, and from the netherworld, where he was in torment, he raised his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side. And he cried out, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me. Send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am suffering torment in these flames.’ Abraham replied, ‘My child, remember that you received what was good during your lifetime while Lazarus likewise received what was bad; but now he is comforted here, whereas you are tormented. Moreover, between us and you a great chasm is established to prevent anyone from crossing who might wish to go from our side to yours or from your side to ours.’
“330 million Good Samaritan American Taxpayers are presently donating a trillion dollars a year to help our domestic poor”
It isn’t a donation, and isn’t to “help the poor”.
The 87,000 new IRS agents-who will be required to carry and be proficient with deadly force-aren’t representatives of a charity, they aren’t soliciting donations-instead they will be conscripting moneys according to a tax code and associated regulations that almost nobody understands reasonably fully and absolutely nobody understands it its entirety.
The entirety of the welfare state is devoted to one thing, and one thing only-the entrapment ever more people into lives of dependency upon the state. In a situation of universal suffrage, the more people that live off the state, the more can be counted on as a pliable constituency, ready to accept any political program, so long as their benefits are maintained, enhanced and increased.
Excellent article Mr. Greaney. I have really enjoyed with your article.
George was not a socialist if by that is meant state ownership of the means of production, including capital. In a nutshell, George put forward the idea that land and other natural resources should not be owned privately but is the common inheritance of humanity. Any product of human labor rightfully belonged to the creator of that product, including capital. Therefore, the returns to labor (wages and salaries) and capital belongs, respectively, to the wage earner and capitalist. The means by which humanity’s right to land and natural resources is achieved by the collection of the economic rent (sometimes called “the single tax”).
George was an agrarian socialist in that he advocated the abolition of private property in land. His argument in “Progress and Poverty” was that God gave ownership of all land and natural resources to the collective, a human abstraction, not to any individual human being created by God. This is logically impossible and violates natural law; “Thou shalt not steal” presupposes that private property “whether it be land or chattels” (Rerum Novarum) pertains to natural law.
In “Progress and Poverty” George declared that by means of “the single tax” — all rent from or attributable to land — the State would become the de facto owner of all land “without calling herself so” (“the universal landlord”, p. 406). Ownership consists of control and receipt of the fruits of ownership, e.g., rent for land, regardless who holds legal title (see Wesley Hohfeld, “Fundamental Legal Conceptions”, 1909).
Thus, regardless whether George called himself a socialist, he advocated abolition of private property in land, and was therefore a de facto agrarian socialist.