The Revolution of Man
The post-war planners are still assuming with Marx that man is essentially economic, or with Darwin that he is essentially animal, or with Freud that he is essentially sexual, or with Hitler that he is essentially political. Hence they think that all we have to do is to change an economic system, or form new parties, or give more sex instruction, or greater license to the break-up of the family and we will have peace.
These planners think they are practical, because they talk in terms of money, trade, international police and geographical areas of influences and federated states. The truth is they are just as impractical as men who might legislate for squirrels by passing laws about nuts. Squirrels eat nuts, and man lives economically; but, as nuts do not explain squirrels, so neither does production explain man. Because the planners do not understand the nature of the one from whom they are planning, their plans are going to lead us into a phase of history where “…eldest Night and Chaos, Ancestors of Nature, hold Eternal Anarchy, amidst the voice of Engless Wars” (Milton, Paradise Lost, Book II).
Given the errant impulses, the frustrated selfish existences, the distorted human goals which these partial views of man engender, there is only one way to arrest that chaos, and that is by organizing it, and the organization of chaos is Socialism. The individualism and egotism which a distorted concept of man begets leave him alone and isolated, and to overcome this isolation there is only one non-Christian solution possible: the subordination of these rebellious atoms to a compulsory principle in the hands of the State. Socialism is the secularized, atheized version of a community and a fraternity of man which Christian love alone can engender. It is the new form into which man will bring his tortured and isolated personality, in vain quest for peace. By abusing his freedom under Liberalism, man, unless he returns to a knowledge of his true nature, will fall under the compulsion of Socialism. He will think less and less of freedom, though he may talk much about it, for a man talks about his heath when he is unhealthy. His end will be the trading of his freedom for a false security from the wet-nurse of the State.
The old order of Liberal Individualism is dead. Man will either become the subject of a non-divine evil will embodied in socialistic bureaucracy, or he will submit himself to the higher Divine Principle for Whom he was made and in Whom he alone can find his peace. He no longer will be free to decide whether he will or will not live under authority. From now on it is a question of under whose authority he will live, the authority of a socialistic State, or the authority of God reflected in a State which recognizes each person as endowed with rights and possessed of a value which no power can disinherit.
The Western World must learn that Totalitarianism cannot be overcome by Socialism, by laissez-faire Capitalism, by Individualism, or by any combination of these, for what has gone wrong is not the means of living, but the ends. The economic and political chaos of he modern world can be overcome only by a non-political, non-economic, non-Marxian, non-Freudian concept of a man and society. This does not mean that politics and economics are of no value; they are. But it means they are of secondary value for, unless we know the nature of the creature for whom politics and economics exist, it is just as useless to meddle with them as it is to fool with a blast furnace unless we know its purpose. Unless we restore the Christian concept of man, ant thus build a human rather then an economic order, we will be forced into a Totalitarianism in the hour we are doing our most to combat it.
What is the objection tot the basic Christian principal, that we build for the whole man as a creature of God instead of for the Darwinian, Freudian, Marxian man? The answer is on the tongues of all the reactionaries: “Christianity does not suit the modern man.” Certainly it does not. And for the reason that the modern man is not man; his part-man, a dissected man.
But Christianity does however suit man in his entirety, or human nature as it is, composed of body and soul and made in the image and likeness of God, with horizontal relations to the right and left in space and time, and yet never wholly explained by these, because identified with something prior and more fundamental, namely vertical relations with God, His Creator and Redeemer in Whom is his Peace and his Joy.
Up to know it has been said Christianity does not suit the modern man, therefore scrap Christianity. Now let us say, Christianity does not suit modern man, therefore let us scrap modern man.
Maybe there is nothing wrong with Christianity after all; maybe – may we dare suggest it – there is something wrong with us. Maybe there is something wrong with John Dewey and nothing wrong with St. John; maybe there is something false about H.G. Wells, and nothing wrong with Vincent de Paul; maybe there is something wrong with Gertrude Stein, and something right about St. Gertrude; maybe there is something wrong with Progressive Education and nothing wrong with the Light of the World Who said: “Suffer the little children to come unto me.” Maybe science cannot be a substitute for morality; maybe morality is not identical with self-will; maybe the goal of life is not to get seven percent on mortgages; maybe the goal of economics is not for management to be responsible to bondholders, but to be responsible to the common good; maybe self-expression raised to a national form could end in Nazism; maybe we have been wrong. Maybe, we had better get back to God! We have given the Darwinians their chance; we have given the Marxists their chance; we have given the Freudians their chance; we have given the Hitlerites there chance. Now, let us give man a chance.
Fulton Sheen, Philosophies at War, 1943
Monday, July 05, 2010
Give man a chance - Sheen
in the 30s Sheen saw clearly where the world was going, and when the world went to war, he saw clearly the deeper level of that war.