Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Incident at the Waldorf

Waldorf Astoria Hotel, New York City, December 31, 1960, 10:30 PM.
Nick de Peyster smiled to himself, cigarette in his mouth, as he walked back toward the ballroom, resplendent in his new dinner jacket. The youngish Korean War vet had a beautiful wife, a new baby (this was their first night out since he was born), and a good job. Guy Lombardo and his Royal Canadians were playing, their first New Year’s ever on television, and Nick had managed to get tickets. It looked like 1961 was going to be a very good year, indeed.
Just then, an older man, also in black tie, stepped in front of him. “Mr. de Peyster?”
Surprised, Nick said, “yes?”
“Sorry to bother you, especially on New Year’s Eve, but I really must speak to you, and we have very little time.”
Nonplussed, Nick allowed himself to be led into an alcove where the stranger simply stared at him for a moment. “I don’t know how to say this, Mr. de Peyster, but --- I’m from the future!
Nick gawked for a moment, and then began laughing. “Happy New Year to you too, buddy! Let me have a taste of whatever you have in your flask!”
But the older man very gravely said, “Please, Nick. There isn’t much time at all. The process can only last a little while, and I’ll just sort of wink out and return to my own time. But look. I can prove it!” He pulled out coins and bills.
Sure enough, many of the coins had odd designs, and all had post-1960 years on them --- some as late as the 21st century. The dimes and quarters weren’t silver, but some odd, cheap metal, with copper-colored lines on the side. The dollar bills were similar to the ones Nick knew, but there were differing details --- and the other denominations had big garish pictures on them; the dates were all in what would be the first decade of the next century as well. It was a pretty convincing collection, actually --- Nick had worked as a cashier for a while.
“Okay, pal, let’s say I believe you. What year are you from?”
“Well, 2011 --- but it’s New Year’s Eve. So 2012 in an hour and a half.”
Not sure if this could be true, but suspecting it might be, Nick started probing. “You look pretty unhappy, but you’re well-dressed. So what is your future like? Have we had a nuclear war? Has Communism conquered the planet?”
“No, nothing like that. No World War III, and the Soviet Union no longer exists. But China is still Communist --- calls itself that anyway --- and they own most of our national debt! The country is near bankruptcy, we’ve spent billions on wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and our president was a freshman senator from Illinois --- a Dailey man.”
“Well, that’s daunting, but the country’s been through worse. I mean, you’re older than I am --- you remember the Depression and World War II, right?”
“Only what I’ve read. But it’s not just that. Abortion is legal, the government and media are pushing for gay…er…homosexual marriage,” and eying Nick’s cigarette, the man added, “It’s illegal to smoke in bars and restaurants, and…you don’t need a tie at 21!”
“That does sound pretty dismal,” Nick said thoughtfully.
“Don’t get me started on not being allowed to say ‘Merry Christmas’ --- although that’s been better this year. And the authorities REALLY hate drunk driving!”
“But abortion is legal?”
“It’s a constitutional right, according to the Supreme Court.”
“And smoking and drinking are frowned on?”
The strains of Guy Lombardo’s band playing The Stars Fell on Alabama drifted in as they spoke. “Yes, but it’s not only that. Dismal... Yes, that’s just it. And fearful. And stupid. And…God, I could go on and on. We had a terrorist attack on the Twin Towers…”
“The what?”
“Two pretty ugly skyscrapers they’re going to build in ten years. Anyway, they were destroyed by terrorists, and since then, all sorts of civil liberties have been threatened in the name of ‘Homeland Security.’ God alone knows where we’re headed. Computers allow us to communicate with people all over the globe instantly, and to read almost anything we want. But people are just so…ignorant!”
“I see that you’re getting yourself upset,” Nick said --- and indeed, the man was getting increasingly agitated. “The picture you paint is pretty bleak. But if, as you say, you don’t remember the Depression and the War, let me tell you, they were bad. ”Memories briefly surfaced, Nick shuddered slightly, and then said, “Korea wasn’t a picnic either, for those of us who were there. If you aren’t fighting an atom war, then I guess you muddle through eventually. I mean, if the Soviet Union is gone, life must better for somebody, after all.”
The time traveller brightened slightly. “I suppose it is!” He then added swiftly, “do you really think we’ll manage?”
Thinking back over what he had seen in his life, Nick said, “Well, that or die. Sadly, we all do that eventually.” At that, the stranger looked oddly --- almost longingly --- at him.” But I have a question for you. If you really are a time traveller from the future, why did you choose to visit me, of all people? Why don’t you warn the president or the United Nations?”
Silently, the older man drew his wallet out of his dinner jacket, took his driver’s license out, and handed it to Nick. He read it, first noting the card’s strange surface and design, the 2014 expiration date, and then the name. Nick gasped, gave the card back, and croaked out, “little Petey?”
The time traveller silently nodded, and the two men tightly embraced. The older man said, “I’ve missed you so much, Daddy, and I’ve been afraid for so long!” They stayed like that until Peter de Peyster shimmered away.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Royal California

C.S. Lewis once famously declared that “Where men are forbidden to honour a king they honour millionaires, athletes or film stars instead: even famous prostitutes or gangsters. For spiritual nature, like bodily nature, will be served; deny it food and it will gobble poison.” The unkind might say that California is proof of this, and to an enormous degree they would be right. But only to an enormous degree --- far from entirely: as with everything else in the Dream State, we once had our own monarchy, firmly rooted in fantasy. Presided over by the redoubtable Emperor Norton I, it was perhaps the most sensible regime under which Anglo-Californians have lived.
But even in the mundane history which anchors the rest of the planet, Royalty has played a large part on the California stage. As recounted in the first installment of this column, our founder was Charles III of Spain. Not only did he accomplish the tasks therein related, Charles set up the Pious Fund of the Californias, with all of its later complications. His role, although often ignored, is not completely forgotten, as his statues in various parts of the State remind us. Charles’ grandson, Ferdinand VII, funded a number of public works around California, including La Placita, Los Angeles’ first Catholic Church. Not too surprisingly, los Californianos were strong Monarchists: when the 1810 revolution in Mexico ended government subsidies, the Mission padres and rancheros dug into their pockets and paid the royal officials themselves --- for a decade California was a sort of free-floating polyp of the Spanish Empire. Royal anniversaries were celebrated with as much ceremony as the little colony could manage: High Masses, processions, fandangos, bear- and bull-baiting and the like. Independence was not welcomed here, but the blow was initially softened by the Monarchical government of the First Mexican Empire.
Independence and American conquest has not removed California from the memory of successive Spanish Monarchs. Alfonso XIII played the part of royal Santa Claus; despite the United States nicking Cuba, Puerto Rico, the Philippines, and Guam from him during his youth, he showered California with many gifts, such as bells for Mission Santa Clara, provincial banners for the San Gabriel Mission Playhouse, and knighthoods for those instrumental in restoring the California Missions. His grandson Juan Carlos I has visited here several times, dedicating the aforementioned statues of Charles III and being feted by the descendants of the Dominguez clan, who owe their present status and wealth to their royal land grant.
Of course, Charles III’s initial moves here were made in response to fear of Russian expansion. But when the Muscovites finally did arrive in 1812, settling at Fort Ross and Bodega Bay, they were friendly. Although those posts were evacuated in the 1840s, the Tsars continued their interest in the Golden State. In 1863, Tsar Alexander II sent naval squadrons to San Francisco and New York in a show of support for the Union during the Civil War (as a counter to Anglo-French support of the Confederacy; in 1888 Alexander III gave a number of gifts to San Francisco’s Holy Trinity Orthodox Cathedral. After the Revolution, many White Russians settled in San Francisco and Los Angeles. The Russian Orthodox Church here happily venerates Nicholas  II and his family as saints, and the heiress to the throne, Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna, made a very successful visit here last year.
The Chinese Emperor showed a great deal of  interest in his subjects who came here, amongst other things endowing a temple for them in Oroville. After a failed attempt in 1898 by Emperor Guangxu to initiate a Meiji-like restoration in China, his adviser, Kang Youwei fled abroad. In exile he formed branches of the Save The Emperor Association; with a number of branches in California’s Chinatowns, it mobilized support for Constitutional Monarchy against both the Empress Dowager and Sun Yat Sen’s republicans. Before defecting to the latter, Homer Lea conducted his Western Military Academy in Los Angeles on the site of today’s Union Station.
If all the world’s peoples have come here, so too have subjects of all the world’s Monarchs, reigning and deposed. The Danish town of Solvang and  the Emmaus Church in Yorba Linda are magnets for their royal visitors, and Queen Margrethe II’s former guards have an association in Los Angeles that observes her birthday with a ball; Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands’ birthday has recently joined the calendar of Southland festivals; the Royals of Norway and Sweden visit the Seamen’s Church in San Pedro, which appeals to both Norse and Swedes. The Royal Society of St. George and the British United Services Club, among many other groups, mobilize support for their Monarch, while Iranian, Vietnamese, Ethiopian, Romanian, Thai, Saudi, and Bulgarian organizations beat the drum for theirs. The International Monarchist League has a chapter in Los Angeles, and various corners around the State will see liturgical commemorations of Charles I of England, Louis XVI of France, and Bl. Charles of Austria. The latter’s son, Otto von Habsburg, had in my childhood a weekly column in the Tidings, the Archdiocese of Los Angeles’ newspaper.
Where there are royals, there are knights. While we have our fair share of phony orders here, there are a number of real ones: Malta, Holy Sepulchre, St. John, and St. Lazarus, to name a few. Even the Constantinians of the Castro obedience are holding their 2011 annual conference in Los Angeles.
Despite our liberalism and egalitarianism, even non-ethnic Californians kowtow when confronted with foreign Royals. This writer noticed this on two occasions showing Los Angeles to King Kigeli V of Rwanda (my only foray to the Playboy Mansion). In 1988, I observed how Hollywood’s elite fell over themselves when meeting Sweden’s Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Sylvia at a reception at the Motion Picture Academy (I was pushed out of the way at the champagne bar by Cesar Romero). A similar atmosphere took hold at the 1997 memorial for Princess Diana at St. James Episcopal Church, Los Angeles, where Michael York was the eulogist, and the late Michael Jackson chief mourner.
Sometimes Royals themselves have sought refuge here: an Egyptian Queen who disgraced her family by converting to Catholicism holed up in Beverly Hills, while a Danish Prince briefly sought connubial bliss at a chicken ranch in Arcadia. It was at San Diego’s venerable Hotel Del Coronado that Edward VIII, then Prince of Wales, might have first met Wallis Warfield; it was a near miss. Most famous of all, perhaps, was our only resident Monarch, Yugoslavia’s Peter II, who spent his last years in our part of the world, and received a royal funeral at a local Serbian Church. Without a doubt His late Majesty would be gratified indeed to see the role his son now plays in their homeland.
Instead of the tyranny implied in the royal appointment of a governor at Monterey, we Californians are now free to elect our own --- and sadly enough, do. But we are not without our own native monarch, Jose I --- self-dubbed “the Widow Norton,” and founder (ess) of the Imperial Court System. While s/he may not appoint the governor, from their decisions one must suppose that s/he does appoint the State judiciary. C.S. Lewis was right.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Age of (Gutless) Wonder

We live in an age of wonder. A satellite can tell us about tides and storms on Titan; one of my best friends has a robot dog that is exhibiting jealousy toward his robot vacuum cleaner (to be fair, poor Speedy, as the techno—canine is called, did try to make friends with the new contraption at first; the far less intelligent cleaning machine ignored these overtures). Thanks to the wonders of the Internet, one can carry on thoughtful written conversations with any number of intelligent people around the globe, and there are few interests, no matter how arcane, that do not have their own corner of cyberspace.
Images of long—dead stars can play their part in new movies — I much enjoyed Lord Olivier's latest performance in Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow. Had my first landlord in L.A., the famed T.V. Psychic, Criswell, not 'departed our dimension in 1982,' as Tim Burton put it, he might well be amazed. Or perhaps not — he did predict that Mae West would be elected President in 1960, that brain transplants would be available via vending machines, and that the world would end in 1999.

But even more astonishing for that prophet would be a parallel development; at the same time that technology is taking us to dizzying heights, we moderns have lost one essential trait: guts!
Oh, not all of us, to be sure. It did take guts, I suppose, for Massachusetts' Supreme Judicial Court to rule traditional Marriage unconstitutional; for innumerable States, Counties, Cities, and now foreign countries to outlaw smoking in public places; for the municipal governments of Pasadena and Newport Beach, California, to ban flambé dishes served tableside in restaurants; and for the State Legislatures of Massachusetts and New York to force Catholic hospitals in their jurisdictions to violate their religion by providing for their employees contraceptives.
Or perhaps not. Just as it takes little bravery to push an old lady into the street or abuse an infant, it may be that the judges and politicians in these episodes accurately evaluated the resolve of their opponents. Take the last named case. In that instance (and when the California Supreme Court ordered that State's Catholic Charities to take similar action), the response of the local Catholic bishops was simply to announce that they would 'pursue legal channels.' Given the current state of the Judiciary, one can surmise where those channels will flow.
Much more effective would have been for at least one of the bishops affected to rise up and say something to the effect of 'Ladies and Gentlemen of the Legislature (or Supreme Court), we fully realize your commitment to your own values, and how much it galls you that we will not pay for our employees' contraceptives. Fair enough; you run the government, and power always decides. But we will not violate our consciences. If you insist upon this, we are withdrawing from health care (or charity work, in the case of California). We are all too aware of the financial burden this action will place upon your shoulders, and deeply regret this. However, you have only two choices: you may allow us to continue to work as we have, at our expense and under our rules, or you may see to the matter yourself, at your own cost. You cannot have it both ways; but please rest assured that if you do pursue the latter course, you will have the satisfaction of being able to do whatever you want in terms of health care, unfettered by our doctrines. We shall be only too happy to refer those in need to you directly.' One supposes that busloads of ill and/or indigent descending upon the public buildings in Albany, Boston, or Sacramento would be quite a sight, indeed.
But such a spectacle will not occur, and the bishops will probably cave. Yet it is not only Their Lordships who suffer from gutlessness: far from it. How many elected executives and legislatures could challenge power—mad courts via executive orders and legislative set—asides, over issues ranging from abortion to the Ten Commandments in courthouses? It will not happen, however.
The cross is in the middle right section.
In my own County of Los Angeles, the mere threat of a lawsuit from the omnipotent ACLU was enough to force three of the five county supervisors to remove the little cross commemorating the place of the Spanish Missions in our history from the County Seal — at a cost of over $700,000 to the tax payers. Of course, the ACLU were flush from victory over the City of Redlands, California, who also had had such an historical reference in their municipal seal (the city fathers there had also caved rather than go to court). But despite a favorable legal precedent in Texas, the Supervisors were not prepared to fight, despite the majority outcry from the citizenry. Even if they would not go to court, the Supervisors should at least charge the ACLU for the changeover of seals — they want it, they should pay for it! No guts.
Not that there is no sense of outrage in the modern world — far from it! But this sense is wonderfully selective. Take, for example, Prince Harry's swastika armband at his ill—fated masquerade party. Outrage radiated throughout the World, and there are steps being taken in the European Parliament to ban the odious symbol throughout the EU, just as it is in Germany. But apart from the threat of censorship (if the swastika is banned, what would prevent future European Parliaments from outlawing full frontal nudity in film?), why is there no similar outrage over the hammer and sickle? Not only did the Communists kill far more people than the Nazis, they are continuing to do so in Cuba, Vietnam, North Korea, and, of course, our most favored nation, China. Yet one hears nothing from either politicos or media.
Moreover, the Prince's faux pas has led to calls for the abolition of the Monarchy. But when his grandmother's government lowered the age of consent to 14, and legalized gay sex in public restrooms, little was said. (Prime Minister Blair's ban on hunting has provoked strident opposition, but of course incomes are threatened). Yet, surely, if an act of insensitivity on the part of a Prince merits the abolition of the Crown, the turning of Britain into a brothel could be argued to be a cause for abolishing the Prime Ministry? Both are idiotic arguments to be sure, but it is noteworthy that neither the Palace nor the Tories see fit to point out the inconsistencies. Again, no guts. (But, to be fair, since the new measures' passage arrests for both public lewdness and pedophilia have dropped considerably).
A large part of the problem in North America, Europe, and Australasia is that few have the guts to stare reality in the face. That reality is this: there are two kinds of folk in public life. Those who are content to administer the population that has fallen into their hands (perhaps liking them more or less as they are), and those who are not so content. These latter look at the folk beneath them, tenuously connected as they are via the ballot box, the tax collection, or the T.V. Screen, and are annoyed. The plebes must be pushed, prodded, cajoled, or otherwise beaten into whatever new pattern pleases the pusher, prodder, and cajoler. Of such stuff are or were Britain's Blair, Spain's Zapatero, Ireland's Ahern, Belgium's Verhoefstrat, Germany's Schroeder, and France's Jospin. So too were our Clintons. But these are only the most visible: you see the breed in the courts, in the media, and on every level of government and civil service.
Most of these folk are Baby Boomers (or the 'Generation of '68,' as our European friends call them). Like their contemporaries in China, they favor Cultural Revolution, albeit in a gradual mode. No one prattles about democracy more than they do. But if we define 'democratic' as meaning government that reflects the will of the majority, then they are most certainly not. The vast majority of people are generally content with whatever conditions they find themselves in — if they are not, bloodshed results. Now, I will not pretend that I think the majority are always right; but then, I do not pretend to be a democratic leader. Were I in power, and wanted to put across a manifestly unpopular measure, I should have to say 'I'm right, and you folks are wrong,' and some such — and of course, the consequences would have to be faced.
But our current leadership classes will not say that, and for good reason: it would take guts. More than that, it would reveal the deep contempt they have for their subjects and their subjects' traditions. It is not just that we proles are wrong, we are stupid — as, presumably, were the ancestors who bequeathed us the customs and manners now being dismantled.
In return for giving up all we have inherited from the past, however, we will be given wonders beyond compare, machinery exceeding our wildest expectations. But if we take the bargain, I fear, in the words of John XXIII, '...poor mortal creatures may well become like the machines they build—cold, hard, and devoid of love.' Surely, the view of human life — whether abortable or euthanasable — espoused by most of the dominant classes seems that way. Still, it may be just as well for us moderns. Machines lack both heart and guts; we may not find it much of a change.

Saturday, August 13, 2011


What a fine hunting day and balmy as May
And the hounds to the village will come
Every friend will be there and all trouble and care
Will be left far behind us at home.
See servants and steeds on their way
And sportsmen their scarlet display
Let's join the glad throng and go laughing along
And we'll all go a-hunting today.

(anon. English folk-song)

The name of the holy St. Francis has been much abused in this century; for the manly and deep-hearted friar, who merited to receive the stigmata and underwent much for the sake of his God and King has oftentimes been transformed into a sickly wall-lily, much given to languishing about in communion with birds and animals. Now fond he was of them, certainly, and all of nature. But when he preached to them, it was because no man would hear what he had to say, not because he thought they were human. This is an important distinction, because St. Francis' name is constantly invoked in the cause of Animal Rights, surely one of the oddest of all the odd causes ever to spawn in this oddest of centuries.

It must be admitted that I am an animal lover. Dogs, cats, horses, mice, rats, fish, hamsters, guinea pigs, snakes, lizards, birds---I have enjoyed them all. But nevertheless, Animal Rights and pseudo-Franciscanism annoy me no end, for one signal reason. Although generally not accepted entirely in Catholic circles, these ideologies have spread quietly the notion that one of the greatest of arts and sports is somehow un-Christian: hunting. Inevitably, we are told of how terrible the notion of the chase is; its cruelty is surely unbecoming to civilized man. Our ancestors, more Catholic than we, knew better. The knights of old were much addicted to hunting with hounds---venery; and with birds of prey---falconry. Disputes between lovers of the two were many, and Leon Gautier describes the case made by a supporter of the former:

"One may easily perceive...that you have not been accustomed to associate with intelligent animals like my hounds and harriers. The education of one good blood-hound, I can tell you, requires as much care as do all your falcons, and at least the beast is fond of you, and reciprocates your caresses. Do you tell me of your going out hunting, indeed? The really animated and delightful scene is on a hunting morning when we go forth to chase the stag or the wild boar. There is the pack baying round you with the beaters, and the attendants with the relays. The favourite hound is encouraged by name, 'Eh, brochart, hie away, lad.' Then the hounds are uncoupled and set upon the scent of the game. On, on! Then the hunt plunges into the wood, and reposes there in the middle of the day in the leafy glades beneath the overhanging trees.

"Then after a while the baying of the hounds again arises, they are again in the scent, they bark, they bay, they have reached the boar, they attack him! The enormous beast defends himself stoutly and fiercely: he places himself against a tree and rolls over and disembowels ten of the boar-hounds. Blood flows, not only that of the dogs: the boar's blood ensanguines the sward, and the noble blood of the huntsman mingles with it, The hounds redouble their cries and their efforts to avenge their master. The animal is at length overcome; pierced with twenty spears he is nailed to the ground; dead! (Chivalry, pp. 151-2).

This may seem bloodthirsty, indeed; but we do need to remember, firstly, that the world of our ancestors was not the safe place we think of today. Let us go back in memory to Europe of the Merovingian Kings. The barbarian invasions had settled down, and whatever traces of paganry remained were slowly being worked upon. The small towns, villages, and forts linked by dirt tracks across the face of Christendom were islands of light in a sea of wooded darkness, and a squirrel leaping from bough to branch could travel from Brittany to the Urals.

Nor were these the woods we think of today, with their smaller green trees creating a pleasant shade over maintained forest paths; no, these were veritable temperate jungles. Perhaps only one tract of this sort remains today: the Bialowiecza Forest straddling the border of Poland and Belarus. One modern writer has recorded his impressions thereof:

My eyes had to adjust to the gloom under the dense canopy of the trees. My skin registered the drop in temperature and the increase in humidity. (In summer, humidity inside the forest may reach 100 per cent.) My nose picked up the rank, dank vegetable odour of leaf mould, humus, bog water and decaying wood. In that silent place my ears registered every sound, so that even the minutest noise seemed magnified: a pine cone fell on the soft forest floor with a thud like a hammer blow, a maple leaf fluttered down among the branches with a clatter like broken crockery, the mad cackle of a jay and the rattle of a woodpecker echoed and re-echoed between the myriad noise-reflecting surfaces of the tree-trunks like the uproar of a blasphemous congregation in a cathedral. But it was on my innermost sense that the forest made the strongest impression. It seemed to me that in the Bialowiecza Forest one was confronted with a kind of mirror image of the inner recesses of the human mind; and in the continuous cycle of growth, death, decay and regeneration that I saw all around, I was painfully reminded of our own mortality, and of the biochemical function we would each have to perform sooner or later when we give back to the common pool the cells of which we, like all other living things, are composed (Douglas Botting, Wilderness Europe, p. 85).

There were fearful inhabitants in forests of this kind. Most fearsome of all, perhaps, was the aurochs, or wild bull. Ancestor of our modern cattle, it was a large black animal standing six feet at the shoulder with spreading, forwardly curved horns. Just as fearsome was the European bison, forest-dwelling cousin of our own American buffalo. Somewhat resembling our version, it too could be found throughout the European forest. Much smaller but nastier in disposition was the wild boar; hunted with spear, it had a cunning lacking in the large bovines. The great hulking brown bear was smarter yet.

There were the moose, which Europeans call elk; the red deer, the roe deer, and the fallow deer. Lesser game were present also; the genet, the marten, the fox, the otter, the badger, hare rabbit, and squirrel. Nor were beasts of prey absent either---the lynx and wild cat prowled. But perhaps dominant in our ancestor's minds was the wolf. As Fr. Montague Summers writes:

For long centuries throughout all Europe there was no wilder brute, no more dreaded enemy of man than the savage wolf, whose ferocity was a quick and lively menace to the countryside such as perhaps we cannot in these latter days by any stretch of the imagination even faintly realize and apprehend. Whilst yet large tracts of every country, steppes and moorland, sierra and wold, upland, fell and plain, were utterly deserted and only trodden by man with peril and mortal danger to himself, the wolf proved a fearful foe. He dwelt in those formidable forests which long continued his veritable strongholds, fortresses from which he could not be dislodged, Riddlesdale and Bowland, Sherwood and Bere and Irwell in England; Ettrick, Braemar, Rothiemurchus, Invercauld in Scotland; in Ireland Kilmallock, the wilds of Kerry, the Wicklow mountains, Shillela [from which latter place originated the famous Irish walking-stick]; in France, Fontainebleau, Vincennes, the thick-hedged slopes of the Jura and Vosges; in Germany and central Europe the Schwarzwald, the Ahmerwald, the Wald-Viertel, and many more. Monarchs hunted him, and legislated and offered rich rewards for his destruction. But for many a hundred years and a hundred years again did the wolf defy all attempts at extirpation (The Werewolf, p. 22).

But other, less easily dealt with animals dwelt also in the forest, as our ancestors believed; the unicorn, for one, and the dragon. Moreover the fairies and rather more unpleasant characters in the way of goblins and demons could be found there also. While holy hermits might take up their residence in the forest's depths, so too might robbers---and not always benevolent ones like Robin Hood and his Merry Men, all under the merry greenwood tree, either. There too was the mysterious Green Man, a half-human, half supernatural figure analogous in European folklore to the North American Indian Sasquatch or Bigfoot, and the Tibetan Yeti. So it is not too surprizing that in the days of Clovis, everyone was allowed to hunt and to clear what forest he could, regardless of station.

The Kings and nobility, however, had a special responsibility to defend the peasants not only from invaders, but also whatever evil lurked inthe woods. Still, the forest and its denizens were not merely fearsome, they were also valuable resources. Hunting was as good a practice for warfare as was tourneying; moreover, the opponent was not human. As they shrank, forests were set aside for Royal and noble use. Bialowiecza Forest, eventually the last refuge of the European bison, and Jaktozowka Forest, which similarly served for the aurochs (less successfully; the last one died in 1627, although German geneticists have "bred back" animals at least similar in appearance and habits---if one could derive modern cattle from the old animal, could not the reverse be done?) were so reserved to the Polish Kings. The French Monarchs created a whole administration, the Eaux et Forts (waters and forests) to cover the network of forests around the Kingdom: such forests as Fontainebleau, Vincennes, Villers-Cotterts, Retz, and St. Germain were monitored by a large team of foresters. The Louvre was built originally as a hunting box for the pursuit of wolves. In England, even more rigid forest and game laws were passed. As in France, a full civil service of foresters in varying ranks was appointed. Such well known English Forests as the New Forest, Epping Forest,the Forest of Dean, Sherwood Forest (home of Robin Hood) and Shakespeare's Forest of Arden were all so set aside. The Holy Roman Emperor himself had a rather similar setup; among his domains was the grand and spacious Forest of the Ardennes. In all countries, small or dangerous game was permitted to commoners to hunt : fox, wildcat, badger, squirrel, hare, and sometimes rabbit or wolf. Landowners could (and were) granted hunting rights on their own land.

This hunting was generally conducted on horseback with hounds---in a manner similar to that of fox-hunting today. Together the hunters would ride after their quarry, signalling to each other by means of horns---when the quarry was first sighted, and so on. Kings and nobles grew to love the sport; Elector John George II of Saxony (reigned 1656-80) was hereditary Lord High Master of the Chase for the Holy Roman Empire, and so loved hunting that he refused the crown of Bohemia because their stags were inferior in size to his own Saxon breed. He established the magnificent Hunt Museum remaining today in Dresden. In this he only emulated Bl. Charlemagne, first of the Holy Roman Emperors. In between fighting at the frontiers of Christendom, the great Emperor would gallop through the forsts in pursuit of game. His city of Aix-la-Chappelle (Aachen) owes its origin to one of his hunting trips. While pursuing a stag across a stream, his horse imnmediately pulled his hoof out of the water and retreated. Examining the leg, Charlemagne found it scalded and the water hot; he built a chapel in the shape of a horseshoe on the spot. After he built his palace there, the city grew up around it. To this day the rotonda around the hot spring is in the shape of a horse shoe, reminding us of its origins. The Emperor was summoned one time to the Vosges mountains, where a bear was terrorizing the neighborhood. With his huntsmen and hounds, Charles pursued him; the bear disabled many of the hunters and dogs. At last, Charles alone standing up to him, face to face on a hill-top, where thethe bear took the monarch in a crushing bear-hug. At last, Charles struck him with his dagger and flung the animal off the precipice. The witnesses cried out, "long live Charles the Great!," which is how he came to be called Charlemagne. Although he was jealous indeed of his hunting rights, he allowed the monks of the Abbey of St. Denis to chase the stags who were overgrazing their woods, on the proviso that the venison would be fed to the postulants and novices, and the hides used to bind missals.

His successor on the throne of France, many centuries later, St. Louis IX was just as great a huntsman. In Palestine during the crusades he hunted lions, while at home he allowed commoners to hunt, provided always that they give a haunch of any animal they killed to the lord of the place. From this comes the custom in Europe today of giving the foot of theslain quarry to whomever leads the hunting party. Louis XV stopped on his way back from his Coronation in Rheims to chase the stag in Villers-Cotter90t before returning to Paris. The martyred Louis XVI was also particularly fond of hunting. Even such Popes as Pius II, Julius II, and LeoX were avid huntsmen, and it was permitted even to religious, so long asthe animals pursued presented a threat either to people or crops.

The chase helped develop the code of honor chivalry had bestowed on the high-born. If hunting for pleasure and not for food, the means at the hunter's disposal must be limited so that the quarry might have a chance to escape; further, wounded animals ought not to be pained more than strictly necessary. Thus even today, one does not shoot a sitting duck or wait for a game-animal to drink at a water hole. The hunting code yet demands that one track down and shoot a wounded animal, rather than leaving it to die in pain if pursuit should be inconvenient. Alongside this code grew up a hierarchy of each "hunt," as a group of hunters, horses, and hounds were and are called. Master of Hounds, beaters-in, and so forth all developed particular roles; similarly, the hunt itself became ceremonial to a great degree, the coup de grace (stroke of grace) being given to the quarry with a ceremonial knife or short sword---designed to be swift and as painless as possible. From hunting has developed much of what we call gentlemanly behavior.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Quest for the Catholic State

After the French Revolution Count Joseph de Maistre, probably the greatest of counter-revolutionary thinkers, uttered this warning: "Know how to be a monarchist: in the past it was instinct, today it is a science." He was fully aware that traditional loyalties and institutions had been questioned by the revolutionary turmoil; in particular rationalism and illuminism attacked the Throne and the Altar and pursued a strategy of laicisation of State and unchristianising of society. They fought sacred monarchies because they denied that authority is derived from God and rejected the idea that society is a natural development of families, is founded on traditions, is an organic entity; to this they proposed the notion of a hypothetical contract. De Maistre knew very well that political battles must first be won in the field of ideas, a teaching which was to be stressed by another great French monarchist, Charles Maurras, and that the Revolution, even if defeated on the battlefield, still lay in wait (Massimo de Leonardis, "Monarchism in Italy," Royal Stuart Review, vol. 8, no. 1, 1990, p. 5).

Up until 1848, Catholic social theorists and politicians alike had to a great degree simply ignored the industrial proletariat. While they continued to fight for Catholic Monarchy, local liberties and traditions, and the countryside over the town, they had ignored the growth of the proletariat and what was called the "social question"---the reduction of the industrial workers to semi-permanent misery; the result was the loss of the Faith among such masses, and the rise correspondingly of socialism and communism. The revolutions of 1848 and the following few years made such aware of two important facts: the Church had to face the industrial age, and just as they had been forced by the Revolution to turn what had been before an instinctual acceptance of the natural order of things into a conscious ideology, so too must they now find a way to apply that ideology---developed initially in defense of traditional and rural institutions---to modern life.
Just as in the first part of the 19th Century, men like De Maistre, De Bonald, von Baader, and MŸller arose to elaborate and popularize the Church's social teachings, so too did they in the second half. As early as 1869, German bishop Wilhelm von Ketteler declared that the working classes required six things:

1) increase of wages corresponding to the true value of labor;
2) shorter hours of labor;
3) days of rest;
4) abolition of child-labor in factories;
5) prohibition of women, particularly mothers, from working in factories; and
6) young girls should not be employed in factories (lest the latter two seem horribly sexist, it should be remembered that then as now, family life was disrupted when mothers had to work, and young girls could be employed at a fraction of even the pittance paid men).

The fact that these proposals seemed radical then says much about conditions at the time. Soon men like him all over Europe would be attempting to unite the older strand of Catholic social thought with the new conditions. Always, however, they would be hampered by the fact that by this time the reins of power in most of Europe were in liberal hands.

Already, though, the world had seen one government at least in integrally Catholic hands, showing what the Church's teachings could give the nation and the ruler who dared to apply them. The country so blessed was Ecuador, and the ruler, Gabriel Garcia Moreno.

The coming of independence to Latin America saw the formation in every country there of two parties: Liberal and Conservative. The latter looked to Spain in particular and Europe in general for social and political inspiration. They wished to retain the Catholic Church in the position which she had had from the first settlement; further, they wanted the great estates to remain like those of Europe---self-contained communities which, while they may not have made their owners a great deal of money did build social stability. The Liberals looked to the United States as a guide, wanted separation of Church and State, and wished to turn the great estates into money-making concerns, like factories. These two groups had clashed since independence. The Conservatives had indeed produced some great leaders, like Mexico's Agust’n I and Guatemala's Rafael Carrera. But these were inevitably opposed by powerful U.S.-backed forces. In any case, as the 19th Century progressed, both parties were faced with the impact such inventions as the railroad must make on their countries.

Born in 1821 to an aristocratic family of Ecuador's capital, Quito, Garcia Moreno studied theology in the university there. Thinking he had a vocation to the priesthood, he received minor orders and the tonsure; but his closest friends and his own interests convinced him to pursue a more worldly career. Graduating in 1844, he was admitted to the bar. Starting his career as both lawyer and journalist (opposed to the Liberal government in power) he made little headway. In 1849 he embarked on a two year visit to Europe to see first hand the effects of the 1848 revolution. He made a second trip in 1854-56. Louis Veulliot (himself a great champion of the Faith in the press) described what these trips did for Garcia Moreno:

In a foreign land, solitary and unknown, Garcia Moreno made himself fit to rule. He learned all that was necessary for him to know in order to govern a nation, formerly Christian but now falling fast into an almost savage condition...Paris, which is at once a Christian and a heathen city, is the very place where the lesson he needed vould best be acquired, since the two opposing elements may there be seen engaged in perpetual conflict. Paris is a training school for priests and martyrs, it is also a manufactory of anti-Christs and assassins. The future president of Ecuador gazed upon the good and the evil, and when he set out for his home afar, his choice was made.

He returned home in 1856 to find his country in the grip of strident anti-clericals; he was elected a senator and joined the opposition. Although himself a Monarchist (he would have liked to have seen a Spanish prince on the throne) he bowed to circumstances and allowed himself to be made president after a civil war the year after his return---so great had his stint in the country's Senate made his reputation. In 1861 this was confirmed in a popular election for a four year term. Unhappily, his successor was deposed by the Liberals in 1867. But two years later he was reelected, and then again in 1875. During his period in office, he propelled his nation forward, all the while uniting her more closely to the Faith.

Personally pious (he attended Mass, daily, as well as visiting the Blessed Sacrament; he received every Sunday---a rare practice before St. Pius X---and belonged to the Workingmen's section of the Sodality, in which he was quite active), he believed that the first duty of the State was to promote and support Catholicism. Church and State were united, but by the terms of the new concordat, the State's power over appointments of bishops inherited from Spain was done away with---at Garcia Moreno's insistence. The 1869 constitution made Catholicism the religion of the State and required that both candidates and voters for office be Catholic. He was the only ruler in the world to protest the Pope's loss of the Papal States, and two years later had the legislature consecrate Ecuador to the Sacred Heart.

In more worldly things, he came to office with an empty treasury and an enormous debt. To overcome this, he placed the government on stringent economy and abolished useless positions, as well as cutting out the corruption which siphoned off tax dollars. As a result he was able to provide Ecuadoreans with more for less. Slavery was abolished, but there was full compensation for the owners; (thus neither former slaves nor masters suffered economically). The army was reformed, with officers being sent to Prussia to study, and illiterate recruits taught basic skills. Houses of prostitution were closed, and hospitals opened in all the major towns. Railroads and national highways were built, telegraph extended, and the postal and water systems improved. City streets were paved, and local bandits suppressed. Garcia Moreno further reformed the universities, established two polytechnic and agricultural colleges and a miltary school, and increased the number of primary schools to 500 from 200. The number of students in them grew from 8000 to 32,000. To staff the enormously expanded health-care and educational facilities, foreign religious were brought in. All of this was done while expanding the franchise and guaranteeing equal rights under the law to every Ecuadorean.

But the Liberals (not without contacts and support in the American Embassy) hated Garcia Moreno; when he was elected a third time in 1875, it was considered to be his death warrant. He wrote immediately to Pius IX asking for his blessing before inauguration day on August 30:
I wish to obtain your blessing before that day, so that I may have the strength and light which I need so much in order to be unto the end a faithful son of our Redeemer, and a loyal and obedient servant of His Infallible Vicar. Now that the Masonic Lodges of the neighboring countries, instigated by Germany, are vomiting against me all sorts of atrocious insults and horrible calumnies, now that the Lodges are secretly arranging for my assasination, I have more need than ever of the divine protection so that I may live and die in defense of our holy religion and the beloved republic which I am called once more to rule.

Garcia Moreno's prediction was correct; he was assasinated coming out of the Cathedral in Quto, struck down with knives and revolvers. So passed from the scene one of the greatest Catholic statesmen the world has ever seen. He showed that making Catholicism the basis of public policy will not doom a country to poverty, but quite the opposite; all Catholic Latin American politicians who have followed since owe him a great debt.

In Europe, there were few truly Catholic governments. Even in Austria-Hungary, Liberals often had the upper hand. If they were not quite able to destroy what Catholicism remained in public life, they were able to prevent it from spreading to real solutions of the social question.
Yet following the leads of Bishop von Ketteler and Garcia Moreno, Catholic social theorists continued to work. In France, one such was Charles, Marquis de La Tour du Pin (1834-1924). A nobleman, he owned and ran a large estate which his old and distinguished family had successfully preserved through the Revolution. His first taste of practical social Catholicism was his father's admonition: "Never forget that you will be only the administrator of these lands for their inhabitants." After a decorated military career (which ended in 1882), he threw himself into the fight to build out of France's Third Republic a just nation. Horrified both by the poverty of Parisian workingmen and by their profound alienation from Church and nation, he collaborated with Albert, Count de Mun in forming workingmen's circles. These would provide centers where industrial laborers could find entertainment, fellowship, education and mutual assistance---under Catholic auspices---and so be both uplifted and made immune to Communist propaganda. This was a valuable experience for La Tour du Pin; together with his convictions that Catholicism must regain its rightful place in the life of France, and that France must once again have a King, it was the origin of his unique social and political vision. Because of the influence of La Tour du Pin's teachings on future events, we will quote a detailed description of them:

Men must have certain personal rights, and also certain common rights, due to the social organization, which it is the duty of government to recognize. These rights are a part of the national constitution. Whether codified or not, the real constitution of a country is what is traditional, permanent, and essential to the principles of its political institutions. It is an historic product; the sum total of solutions given to the eternal problem of reconciling authority with the desire for liberty.

In the past, this problem was less acute, for men had a different conception of liberty. To us today liberty is individualistic and means the absence of restraints; to them, because they were more truly Christian, it was social, and meant the free play of the institutions which ensure social justice, that is to say, an equitable distribution of the burdens and advantages of society.
The true basis of such institutions is the association of men acording to their functions. Thus only is the sense of social solidarity developed. To be genuine, a representative system must make room for all social collectivities. Both the feudal and the corporative regimes were just such organizations of men, not according to classes, but according to functions.

A political body should represent, not individuals, but social bodies, organic elements, such as bishoprics, fiefs, cities, communes, corporations. When laws are to be elaborated, it is only from such organized bodies that one can expect competence, independence, and prudence. When classes and interests are represented there is a constant current, and no violent movements occur, but when the parliament is based on an unorganized universal suffrage, only opinion is represented, and all is ephemeral---it is a mere demagogy.

La Tour du Pin was favorable to the creation of an aristocracy. There have never been closed castes in Christian countries, he pointed out, but only classes. These will always exist, for a society necessarily develops an aristocracy, which is the mainspring of its civilization. If society is not to be a chaos, a natural selection of families by heredity must be allowed to take place. The hereditary possession of the land is the truest source of distinction and authority; it alone can create a genuine nobility.

When a parliament represents permanent forces, as it does in countries like England [or did until the change of constitution in 1911---CAC] (where the absolutism of the ancien regime did not penetrate), when a peerage is a real House of Lords, that is to say, of those possessing great fiefs, and representing the families which have always shared in the sovereignty, the result is good. But in France the nobility had ceased during the ancien regime to be a political order, and had become a mere social class. This was one of the reasons why at the Restoration it was so hard to reconstruct a representative system.

In addition to the peerage, which already represents the class of landowners and the profession of soldiers, there are three types of interests which should be represented. They are (1) the taxpayers, (2) constituted bodies in the State, and (3) professional organizations. As to the first category, the family is the primordial unit of representation, as it is of society. Each head of a family has a right to select mandataries who will consent to taxation. Widows and unmarried women should here have in this respect equal rights with fathers, for they represent a family. Electoral colleges may be formed of these heads of families. They should be divided into three classes, according to the amount of taxes which they pay, and the burden should be distributed equally among these three groups.

As to the second category, churches, universities, and legal bodies, as well as the professional corporations, must have representation. It cannot be regulated, however, as in the case of the taxpayers; it must be based on the hierarchical principle which is the very structure of these bodies.

Most important of all is professional representation. The corporative regime must be introduced into all occupations, and become the basis of economic, social, and political life. All occupations create common rights and interests, and the associations which arise from these should be organized, and erected into political as well as economic units.

The representatives of the taxpayers would constitute the administrative organs, which would be autonomous in the communes, and in the State would exercise a control over the use of public monies, through a chamber of deputies, which would vote the budget. The budget, however, should normally be voted for a number of years ahead, unless there is some unusual expense to be provided for.

Another chamber should exist, formed by the representatives of the social bodies, which would have the right to be consulted on all technical and economic matters. This would secure a balance between the opinion of the moment, represented by the taxpayers' delegates, and the permanent interests of the country, represented by delegates of the organized bodies. The consent of both chambers would be necessary for measures which concerned all.

The chambers are not, however, to have a supreme authority, either in legislation or administration. It is the king in his council who governs, and the States [legislatures], Provincial or General, have merely rights of consent and control. They are not to sit in permanence, or be convoked regularly, for this would lead to a divided sovereignty, and perpetual struggle.
This political structure as conceived by La Tour du Pin was founded on the corporative organization of industry, professions, and the land. His ideas with regard to this corporative regime are precise. What should the contract of labor provide for the worker, for the owner, and for society? he asked. This contract is an exchange of services. Both capitalist and laborer must procure a living from it, each according to his condition, and living implies a home and the means of rearing a family.

The corporative regime is not socialistic; it admits that inequalities of social condition must be respected. Its basis is the fact that labor and capital are mutually dependent. Its principle is the admission of a right and a duty for each member of the association, and of reciprocal duties between the association and the State. The corporation is, like the commune, a state within the State, a social institution, with a fixed place in the community, and obligations to it.
In the Middle Ages the land was for the peasant, and the tool for the worker. Today the laborer has no real rights, no guaranty of fixed work, no safe tomorrow. Socialism, on the contrary, gives no rights to capital. The corporative regime gives rights to both.

A corporation should include all who are engaged in a given industry, in whatever capacity, for they are all interdependent, and the salary or profit of each, according to his place will depend alike on the profit of the industry.

The fundamental functions of a corporation are: first, the formation of a corporate patrimony, i.e., an insurance fund, to be levied partly on the profits of capital, and partly on the wages of labor, and to serve both as a protection for the workers, in old age and illness, and as a reserve for the industry itself, to enable it to survive times of stress; and second, the verification of professional capacity, both of workers and directors, and the supervision of the quality of production. This will limit, but will not do away with competition, and access to trades and professions. It will protect the public and safeguard the skill which is the laborers' capital. A third function would be the representation of each element in a corporative government. This will allow disputes as to wages and the conditions of labor to be settled by those who are actually interested in the industry in question, either as workers or owners.

The land, like the tools of industry, must yield the means of subsistence to those who cultivate it. It belongs to the poor as well as to the rich. Society has rights in it, and the individual only a tenancy.

In every case the duties, not the rights of property owners should be stressed. Property is the basis of society only if it is reasonably accessible to all. The masses to become conservative must be given a stake in the community. Liberalism destroyed the old corporations, in which everyone had some interest, and free competition lowered the standard of living, and did not respect the needs of family life. The State exists only to protect society, and if misery becomes so great that a large number of members do not want society to be preserved, the State will not be able to act.
La Tour du Pin saw the need of decentralization. He thought that it could best be realized by means of indirect professional representation. All professional associations should send delegates to a local syndical chamber, in which owners and workers would be equally represented. These local chambers would send delegates to a body which would have its place of meeting in the chief town of the arrondissement . These in turn would send delegates to provincial chambers. Thus agriculture and industry, producers and retailers, as well as the liberal professions, would each possess a provincial chamber, and these chambers could unite, when necessary, to discuss their common interests. They would then form a body much like the old Provincial Estates. These chambers should be presided over by a permanent official, emissary of the central power, and there should also be a central office in each province to permit the government to keep in touch with the local corporations.

La Tour du Pin was hostile to the liberal conception of a free Church in a free State. In practice, he said, this had proved unfavorable to religion. The Church once had the right of ministry, that of teaching, and that of administering justice when its interests or its members were concerned. Today only the first of these is left, for the Church's judicial power had disappeared, and her right to teach is strongly contested.

Both the idea that religion is a private matter, and the belief that the Church should be submitted to the control of the State are errors. "Man," he said, "is a religious being, and the social order always corresponds more or less closely to a religious idea." Religious society is the best society, and its precepts must be practiced. No attack upon it must be allowed. All that is not Christian in the spirit and habits of society must be banished. Dissidents may be tolerated, but they should be treated, not as members of the community, but as strangers.

This very long quotation is useful because it shows not only what La Tour du Pin, but most other Catholic social theorists arrived at by the late 19th Century---the idea of the Corporate state. Men like Ramon Nocedal in Spain, Karl, Baron von Vogelsang in Austria, and Giuseppe Toniolo in Italy elaborated the same ideas in their own countries. The latter was influential in persuading Leo XIII to accept these notions; the result was the groundbreaking 1891 encyclical, Rerum novarum. In this, Leo XIII held up corporatism as the Catholic ideal.
As a result, the Catholic or Christian Social Parties in Austria-Hungary, Germany, Belgium, and the Netherlands all adopted the Corporate State as their long-term goal. In France, the chance to form such a group was ironically scuttled by Leo's order that French Catholics should abandon Royalism and "rally to the republic;" this in hopes of convincing the government not to seize the churches. While Leo's strategy failed to preserve the property, it did manage to split the most activist French Catholics into two factions. In Italy no Catholic party was formed because to take part in electoral politics would have meant recognition of the Italian government's legitimacy (impossible due to their usurpation of Rome).

In Spain and Portugal too the Catholics were split by dynastic disputes. In any case, since the whole nature of electoral politics as we know them and in which the Catholic parties had to function is and was Liberal, these groups often had to defer any work on the Corporate state to some unknown future, and spend the immediate working for easier goals---often including piecemeal parts of the total program. So it was as the new 20th Century dawned.

The First World War destroyed much of value, including the Habsburg Empire of Austria-Hungary. But it also destroyed faith in the Liberal vision of progress; its horrible devastation led many to think more of the next world. Further, the unleashing of Communism in Russia (and its bloody attempts at rule in Finland, Hungary, Bavaria, Slovakia, and elsewhere) brought many to think more seriously of non-Liberal Capitalist alternatives. But it was the world-wide Depression in 1929, threatening the very foundations of the international Capitalist economy which led many folk in many lands to ponder the Corporate State anew. Although Monarchism and Catholicism were bound up together with Corporatism in many people's view, the three were not necessarily identical, as attempts to put them into practice showed. At any rate, Pius XI reinforced and updated his predecessor's endorsement of Corporatism in his encyclical, Quadragesimo Anno, issued in 1931.

Portugal had suffered a revolution in 1910, which expelled King Manoel II and put in an anti-clerical regime. On May 27, 1926, a popular rising against the regime began in Braga, in the north. On June 17th, the rebels entered Lisbon. The presidency was given to General Oscar Carmona. He summoned to the capital one Professor Antonio de Oliveira Salazar, an instructor of economics at the University of Coimbra. Like Garcia Moreno, Salazar had been ordained in minor orders, and was a fervent Catholic. Moreover, he was at Coimbra a student of the writings of La Tour du Pin. Eventually, he became Prime Minister, and in 1932 gave his country a new, Corporative constitution. In this document, the ideas given in the earlier quote by La Tour du Pin were erected into law. The result was called the Estado Novo, the New State. Corporations representing labor and capital in every branch of industry were erected.

The economy of Portugal had been in foreign hands for a long time; Salazar restored the position of the Portuguese fishermen, farmers, and artisans. The Church reassumed her rightful place in the national life. He declared that when the country was ready, he would bring back her King. Above all, Salazar tried, as had La Tour du Pin, von Vogelsang, and the other Corporate theorists, to put an end to the rule of party and faction. In his own words:

...we seek to construct a social and corporative state corresponding exactly with the natural structure of society. The families, the parishes, the townships, the corporations, where all the citizens are to be found with their fundamental juridical liberties, are the organisms which make up the nation, and as such they ought to take a direct part in the constitution of the supreme bodies of the state. Here is an expression of the representative system that is more faithful than any other.

What was the result? Throughout the 1930s, World War II, and the 50s, Portugal did rather well. The Corporations continued to grow, and the standard of living rose. But in the early 60s revolts against Portuguese rule broke out in the African possessions of Angola, Mozambique, and Portuguese Guinea. Although the guerrillas were armed by both the Soviet Union and the United States, Salazar resolved to fight. Incapacitated by a stroke in 1968, he died two years later. His successors were not as able as he, and in time the strain of fighting the world's two superpowers by proxy ruined the national economy. A coup in 1974 ended Salazar's experiment. But what would have been the outcome had the New State been allowed to develop in peace is a question, which, while unanswerable, is deserving of a good deal of thought.

Another attempt to inaugurate a Catholic, Corporate state took place in Austria. The rump remaining from the German-speaking areas of the former Empire was always in a rather precarious position economically. The Depression hit the country badly. The rise of the Nazis to power in Germany caught the country in a vise; to stave off Hitler, successive Austrian governments had to turn to Mussolini. Moreover, the Socialists and Communists were very active. Surrounded by dangers internal and external, Austrians looked for strong Catholic leadership. They found it in Engelbert Dollfuss.

Born in 1892, Dollfuss had studied law and economics at Vienna. He became secretary to the Lower Austrian Peasant Federation, and in 1927 director of the Lower Austrian chamber of agriculture. In 1931 he became chancellor. At the Christian Social party conference in April 1933, the need to reconstruct Austrian society if it was to stave off its enemies was of paramount concern. At that conference, Dollfuss' assistant, Kurt von Schuschnigg declared that the "reconstruction of the state" was "indivisibly connected with the reform of society," and that Quadragesimo anno was the guide. A new Corporative constitution was adopted on June 19, 1934.

It is a remarkable document. Its preamble reads: "In the name of almighty God from Whom all justice emanates, the Austrian people receives for its Christian, German Federal State on a corporative foundation this constitution." In keeping with this, the Concordat with the Holy See was elevated to Constitutional law. Corporative legislative bodies like the Federal Cultural Council and the Federal Economic Council were erected. Dollfuss, lover of Austrian institutions that he was, favored a Habsburg restoration. But although he gave his county a good constitution, he did not see it in operation for long.

The Austrian Nazis were fearful that Dollfuss' activities would prevent the country's being annexed by Germany. On July 25, 1934, a group of 150-200 Nazis seized the chancellery, and murdered Dollfuss. Although the attempted coup was put down, it was nevertheless a great blow to Austrian independence.

Dollfuss' constitution did survive him---for four years. At last, abandoned by the West, Austria submitted to her northern neighbor. For the short period that Dollfuss' reforms were in effect, they produced some excellent results. Unhappily we shall never know their potential.
Lithuania also attempted a similar solution to the problems of the Great Depression, Communism, and Nazism. After a pro-Communist government was deposed in 1926, Antanas Smetona, who had led the nation to independence in 1918, returned to power. Under his sponsorship, a new constitution in 1931 made Catholicism the religion of the State, and established Chambers of Commerce and Agriculture to function in typical corporative style. A 1935 law created a Chamber of Labor to safeguard the workers' cultural, economic, and social interests. Here again, only five years would pass before Soviet troops ended the experiment---but what was accomplished in the meantime showed great promise.

The next year, Lithuania's neighbor to the north, Latvia, adopted a Corporative government; this even though only 29% of Latvians were Catholic. Still, it conformed to the general pattern otherwise:

A corporative form of government came into effect with the formation, in January 1936, of a National Economic Council, made up of the elected boards of the newly created chambers of commerce, industry, agriculture, artisans, and labor. A State Cultural Council was also created, consisting of the boards of the Chamber of Professions, and the Chamber of Literature and Art. These councils were allowed to collaborate with the respective government departments, individually and jointly. The two National Councils constituted the Joint Economic and Cultural State Council, which was convoked by the President of the Republic, and worked in close collaboration with the Cabinet of Ministers. The Joint State Council represented all sections of the nation, including the national minorities. It passed resolutions by a simple majority vote of its members.

The reorganization of the producing population on a guild basis was paralleled by a readjustment in municipal and rural self-government, where elections were now held along guild rather than political lines. A new communal law provided for an organic coordination between the various corporative chambers and the self-governing territorial administrations. It was generally conceded at the time that the direct participation of every producing socio-economic group in the governmental machinery insured that national unity which both public opinion and the men in office sought as a remedy for the current ills and a new foundation for the future security of the state (Alfred Bilmanis, A History of Latvia, pp. 360-361).

Needless to say, the Soviets put an end to all of that also in 1940.

The year 1936 also saw the beginning of the Spanish Civil War. The Falange, the coalition of Carlists, Alfonsinos, and Corporatists who won that conflict in 1939, maintained the following point along with the 27 others in their program:

9. From the economic viewpoint we conceive of Spain as a large producer's syndicate. We shall organize corporatively Spanish society by means a system of syndicates, according to fields of production, syndicates which will be at the service of national economic integrity.
The Falange did form some of these syndicates; moreover, they spread the idea of Corporatism throughout Latin America. Even in the American held-Phillipines, a branch of the Falange existed, organized by Andres Soriano and Enrique Zobel.

But some of these nations had by 1937 their own native Catholic Corporatist movements, friendly to but independent of the Spanish Falange. The Sinarquistas of Mexico (see the December 1993 issue) maintained as one of their 16 points:

The members of the same craft or profession must unite, building corporate groups. Over these professional or corporate groups, a superior power must be established, in charge of their mutual relationships and directing them to the common good. Similar professional corporations must unite within themselves, submitting to a supreme authority embodied in the political structure of the nation.

Laureano Gomez, head of the Colombian Conservative Party after 1930, and president from 1950 to 1953, was interested in Corporatism; so too was Jose Uriburu, Argentine president, 1930-31. But in order to be friendly with the U.S. Franco tacitly dropped Corporatism after 1955, and most Latin Americans followed suit. Quadragesimo anno made such an impression in the Netherlands that Corporations were actually formed at the behest of the minority Catholic party, and endowed with a certain amount of governmental power in the 1938 constitution; World War II and German occupation ended this experiment. In Belgium, Robert Poulet, a journalist, played an important part in the Reaction group. This consisted of men of letters, war veterans, corporatists, etc. Established in in 1932, its organ for the next two years was the Revue Reactionnaire,. It tried to foster a "powerful current of opinion against parliament and democracy;" it felt that the old parties must disappear and "abdicate their sovereignty into the hands of the king." The king, who would govern with the help of a corporatist system, would be given the most extensive powers, including legislation. In 1935 the Revue Ractionnaire was succeeded by the Revue de l'Ordre Corporatif (1935-1940) which continued the struggle for a "corporate monarchy." The previous year, Poulet and various other Reaction members took over the Nation Belge. This latter held that the Parliamementary regime was dying, and should be replaced by a corporatist state organized around the king. Of similar views were Pierre Nothomb (b. 1887), writer and orator, founder of the weekly L'Action Nationale (1924-1930), and Paul Hoonaert, who was executed by the Nazis.

In Ireland, Corporatism inspired the work of Frs. Denis Fahey and Fr. E. Cahill; it also had some influence on the 1937 constitution.

As might be expected, Corporatist ideas were not unknown in France, home of La Tour du Pin. They were popularized by the famed Charles Maurras of l'Action Fran?aise. Due to his influence and those like him, the regime of Marshal Petain at Vichy experimented with Corporatism during the two years of their partial independence from the German occupiers in 1940-42. After that date, former Socialists like Pierre Laval were forced into positions of power by the Germans; these soon ended the Corporatist effort.

Corporatism crossed over to Quebec from France; the movement l'Action Francaise Canadienne, led by Fr. Lionel Groulx, became so influential that Cardinal Villeneuve himself opined on April 17, 1937, "We have and there some bits of social justice, but these appearances of remedies do not suffice. We need more than that: full corporatism." As Sinarquismo came across the border to the Southwest, so did folk inspired by Groulx come with the French-Canadians to New England. Thus was founded the 20s-era paper in Woonsocket, Rhode Island, La Sentinelle, edited by Elphege-J. Daignault (1879-1937).

Unfortunately, Mussolini and Hitler attempted to claim Corporatism for themselves, leading some to claim that it is merely Fascism. But this attempt is belied by two important facts. The one is that in true Corporatism, as elaborated by Popes and lay theorists and politicians, the Corporations are organic, that is, true developments from the grass-roots. The great dictators tried to make them artificially; it did not work well, and in the case of Italy the attempt was given up after 1937.

The other important point is that many of their opponents were true corporatists. Fr. Luigi Sturzo's Popular Party (Catholics could vote in Italy after World War I), were among the bitterest opponents of the Fascists. They had as their motto, Libertas, a liberty which was not "the liberal, individualist, antiorganic atomic conception, which is based on the [false] conception of the sovereignty of the people." In Germany, the heroic Claus, Count von Stauffenberg, who attempted to assasinate Hitler as part of a coup on July 20, 1944, was surrounded by Corporatists. Apart from emphasizing the need for Christianity in general and Catholicism in particular in German public life, von Stauffenberg had some very Corporatist things to say:

How can people fit to govern be recruited from all sections of the population? Is it possible, and if so how, to establish popular representation in Germany, perhaps on an entirely different basis than that of conventional political parties---perhaps building on the political reality of a system of local communities, vocational groups, or associations of common interests which might be given a public voice of their own in Parliament instead of deviously pursuing their objectives through self-interested parties or by parleying with such parties.

Relations between entrepreneurs and workers must be based on their common tasks, and their joint responsibility toward the community as a whole and towards the individual human being.
He was, by all accounts, a great man, von Stauffenberg; one wonders how, had he been sucessful, he would have served his country and his continent. Is it not odd that Nazi, Fascist, Communist, and Capitalist alike all opposed these Corporatists? One might be tempted to say that destruction of the unique Catholic social and economic vision was the one thing which united both Allies and Axis in World War II.

But why bother with all this old news now? What can this pack of lost opportunities tell us today?

Three things. First, Corporatism was an attempt to apply the never-changing teachings of the Church in the social sphere to the changed conditions brought on by industrialism. The shift in developed countries over the last few decades from an industrial to an information/service economy is as great a shift, and quite as traumatic. Surely it needs to be addressed from a Catholic viewpoint.

Second, we are in the grip of a recession deeper than any we have had since the Great Depression. It is precisely at such times that economic scarcity drives us to question whether or not there are better alternatives to our present economic and political system.
Thirdly, it will be apparent from all that has been written here that in many ways we in these United States are the acme of classical Liberalism. Apart from the Mexican and French-Canadian immigrants spoken of, and the late Fr. Charles E. Coughlin, no one has ever seriously suggested that the social and financial life of this county ought to be organized upon Catholic principles. For good reason; to do so would require our nation's conversion.

Yet we have such an admirable band of predecessors, as we have just read. It would be good if we could emulate them.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Australia and the Fourth of July

Two occurrences are foremost in my mind right now. The one is my country's upcoming (as these lines are written) celebration of Independence Day on 4 July. The other is an article I read about the decision of the government of the state of Queensland in Australia to remove all references to the Queen and the Crown from oaths and legislation (I should think that the state name would be changed too, to "Keatingland" or some such, but no one has broached it). The officer responsible explained the move by saying "It's time we stood on our own feet."

The latter episode in the light of the former is, to this Yank, laughable. The arguments against the Monarchy in Australia are threefold. The first two are common to Britain also, viz: a) the Monarchy is undemocratic, and b) that the Queen's offspring are behaving in a feckless and immoral manner. The third is peculiar to countries who share the Monarchy, like Canada, New Zealand, Jamaica, and so on: the Crown is a colonial institution, and an insult to our nationhood.

These notions are easily exploded by the experience of the United States. First, there is the notion that a republic is a guarantee of popular freedom, or as it is mis-named, "Democracy." But who are the sorts of individuals who generally bring about the conversion of Monarchies into republics? Whether we wish to speak of the Afrikaaner Nationalists in South Africa, or Kwame Nkrumah in Ghana, or Robespierre in France or... the list is endless. But were any of these the kind of folk to whom a sane individual would wish to entrust his fate? "Ah," one might ask, "but what of the founders of your own glorious republic, whose Independence you will celebrate with fireworks (if local authorities graciously permit you to use them)?" What indeed? Let us consult historian Norman Gelb:

Liberty is always among the first casualties of war, even of wars fought to defend freedom. But its demise in revolutionary America, even before independence was proclaimed and before loyalists could be said to be lending aid and comfort to the enemy, showed liberty to be merely an empty catch phrase for many of the people aroused to action in its name. Not only was the liberty of individual dissidents suppressed with unseemly haste and unwarranted vigour, but freedom of the press, so proudly attained under British rule, quickly became a dead letter. As the orators of the Revolution thundered on about individual rights, individuals who dared to publish sentiments opposing their conemnation of Britain and their call to arms were subjected to indignities, penalties, and the forced closure of their journals....(Less Than Glory, p. 159).
In the opening stages of the revolution---indeed, even before hostilities broke out, Loyalists throughout the 13 colonies were harassed and intimidated by the "Sons of Liberty, which group every American schoolchild is taught to revere, and of whom Jay Stevens wrote (Yankee Magazine, July 1993, p. 56): "With their constant marching, their badges, their passwords, their numerous feasts and festivals...the Sons of Liberty bear an uncomfortable resemblance to the Brownshirts of our own century. Composed in part of dockworkers, apprentices, and street toughs, they enforced the boycotts, harassed the aristocracy, taunted the British officers, beat up the British officials, and tarred and feathered Tory sympathizers and informants." When the war was over, 100, 000 people were forced to leave, the equivalent proportionately to-day of 12,000,000. Three years after a war fought alledgedly to end unjust taxation had ended, the farmers of Massachussetts rose up against the new State government because of heavy taxation---unlike any in the time of King George.

Still, in the English-speaking world (save, alas, for Ireland), the day when men believed strongly enough in something to fight for it seems to have passed. All is done now through votes, media, and the stroke of a pen. The Queen reigns, but does not rule---and if she reigns through a Governor-General appointed by a local Prime Minister, that Prime Minister is correspondingly more powerful. But this is not enough. Politicos want more than power, they want to be worshipped. Undoubtedly, many a Commonwealth premier would be in Nirvana, were he able to halt traffic in his private plane at his nation's second largest airport, while receiving a £150 haircut. But the presence of even an old party hack turned Governor-General is enough to spoil the fun. Every piece of legislation with its ornate Monarchic language serves to remind him of a terrible fact: he is only a caretaker, not a god. That reminder must go.

Now we come to the Royal peccadilloes. Again, this is amusing. Statistics shows that divorce and so forth grow ever larger in Britain (in this free republic, the rate is something like 50%). It is rather unfair to accuse the Royals of being undemocratic, and then be upset if they follow their subjects' actions, rather than guide them. Besides; does anyone seriously think the republican rulers are moral paragons? Most have been simply unspeakable. Even in my own country, where they can be relatively benificent, folly, madness, and crime have stained more than a few administrations. The lurid revelations our President's alleged mistress in Penthouse magazine make all that MI-5 have dragged up from phone-tapping seem positively child-like and innocent. If immorality on the part of its leaders were a reason for abolition, there would be no institutions: political, business, religious, or any other sort; remaining on Earth---and that includes even families.

Let us look at colonialism now. First and foremost, let it be remembered that most of the peoples of the world have or had hereditary rulers. George Heaton Nicholls, later to be a prominent fighter for the Crown in South Africa, was High Commissioner in London for SA during World War II. There he found much opposition to King George II's return to Greece, a return Nicholls' PM, General Smuts, supported. Of this affair, Nicholls observed:

The opposition to the return of the King existed just as strongly in the United States, Australia, and New Zealand, as it did in some political circles of the United Kingdom. The outcome of the plebiscite betrayed the failure of all these people to understand the deep spiritual significance and mysticism which surrounds a hereditary ruler fulfilling his predestined task and how curiously unaware they were of a loyalty for a crowned head which exists among all common peoples who have not been influenced by revolutionary propaganda. Those of us who have had experience inn administration of the native tribes in Africa, know with what a deep sense of satisfaction an hereditary chief is accepted as their spokesman to the world. Centuries of tradition and ritual are not easily erased by the arguments of the London School of Economics, however logical they may be. (South Africa in My Time, pp. 372-373).

Indeed, if it is a question of colonialism, surely our glorious republic's annexation of the Kingdom of Hawai'i is an interesting inversion of what is pretended to be the pattern. For that matter, President Roosevelt's Indian Re-organisation Act of 1934, which deposed all the traditional tribal rulers with more subservient elected ones was another. European Monarchies did very well with the concept of "indirect rule," because the local rulers' postion could be made analogous in law to a feudal lord's. Certainly, for many such colonial rule meant safety, peace, and food. Native republics, freed of faraway Queen and traditional native ruler alike, have rarely given their subjects these things for very long.

Ah, but what about us sons of the Europeans, in our far away American and Australasian homes? Surely a republic is most suited to us---have not the United States everything a Monarchy could provide them? No. We did have two things which did, for a long time supply us with the requisite stability. One was an apolitical judiciary; the other was a sort of Americanist religion, which led us to venerate as sacred everything---flag, constitution, liberty bell---having to do with our country in the abstract. The Founding Fathers were elevated in the national consciousness from a clique of revolutionaries to sainthood. But the first of these is gone, and the second is going. We have nothing to replace them.

In any case, neither Canada, Australia, nor New Zealand have a similar national idolatry. Their people retain something of Christianity in their makeup, and so for them the dicta of John Healy, turn-of-the-century Catholic Archbishop of Tuam remains valid:

The character of Kings is sacred; their persons are inviolable; they are the anointed of the Lord, if not with sacred oil, at least by virtue of their office. Their power is broad---based upon the Will of God, and not on the shifting sands of the people's will...They will be spoken of with becoming reverence, instead of being in public estimation fitting butts for all foul tongues. It becomes a sacrilege to violate their persons, and every indignity offered to them in word or act, becomes an indignity offered to God Himself. It is this view of Kingly rule that alone can keep alive in a scoffing and licentious age the spirit of ancient loyalty, that spirit begotten of faith, combining in itself obedience, reverence, and love for the majesty of kings which was at once a bond of social union, an incentive to noble daring, and a salt to purify the heart from its grosser tendencies, preserving it from all that is mean, selfish, and contemptible. (P.J. Joyce, John Healy, pp. 68-69).

Would that the good Archbishop's countrymen---or for that matter, their opponents, had heeded his words. But whether one likes it or not, all of us formed by the cultures which grew out of Europe have a need for Monarchy. In its rituals, its manner, it links us---not always consciously---to our ancestors, for whom Christendom was at once one Holy Church outside of which there was no salvation, and one Sacred Empire, outside of which there were neither safety nor civilisation. It brings us further back also, to a time common to all mankind, when the figures of Father, Priest, and King were one---yet a mere shadow upon Earth of One greater still.
We ignore these truths at our peril. Whether in London, or Paris, or Sydney, or Los Angeles, human nature is the same. C.S. Lewis put the problem very well:

Monarchy can easily be debunked, but watch the faces, mark well the debunkers. These are the men whose taproot in Eden has been cut: whom no rumour of the polyphony, the dance, can reach---men to whom pebbles laid in a row are more beautiful than an arch. Yet even if they desire mere equality they cannot reach it. Where men are forbidden to honour a king they honour millionaires, athletes or film stars instead: even famous prostitutes or gangsters. For spiritual nature, like bodily nature, will be served; deny it food and it will gobble poison.