By Dr. Tobias Lanz

Again in print after sixty eight years, this anthology of essays is a vintage survey of the Catholic response to difficulties created through the economic revolution and socialism and is a distinct milestone within the background of social idea. Reacting to the melancholy and the seeming inadequacies of capitalism and socialism, those thinkers contributed landmark essays at the subject matters of estate, craftsmanship, industrialism, and extra. With an creation via Hilaire Belloc, this quantity features a coherent illustration of 1 of the relevant colleges of suggestion using Christian conception to the socioeconomic difficulties of early- to mid-20th-century Europe. This paintings can be of curiosity to someone concerned about the background of social concept.

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I mention this point, not because it is necessary to find any deeper motive than reason for the unhappiness felt by men and women who are subjected to speed and noise out of harmony with their nature, but because there seems every reason to suppose that a silent city would not solve the problem. Man has an affinity for reality, and the great modern cities can never be made real. The elements of life – the cleansing earth, the seasons, the contact with primary things – are necessary to sanity. Man is the master, but he is sane in proportion as he sees, touches and uses them.

Nominally decentralization has even taken place in the Soviet Union, apart from the new countries formed from fragments of the old Russian Empire. Actually, of course, this is held together by a highly centralized authority in Moscow, wielding the weapon of irresistible military power. But the thirty or forty republics within the Soviet Union are already organized on paper and the inevitable end, as the hopeless economic and – more obvious still to Catholic eyes – spiritual unsoundness of Communism takes effect, must be a breakdown that will leave them really independent.

Thus no modern English government, so long as the present rule by and in the interest of the commercial-minded is maintained, dare do more than talk about any real protection for primary home products. While on the other hand a good deal has already been done, and more may be expected, in the direction of fostering the inessential industries which tend to waste natural resources, such as gramophones, wireless sets and all the thousand and one “knick-knacks” which fill the modern home and give a false impression of a “high standard of living” amongst people who do not even know what good food tastes like or how good clothes should wear.

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