Quote of the Week

Quote of the Week November 11, 2007

The Case for Utopia

The world would be better off
if people tried to become better.
And people would become better
if they stopped trying to become better off.
For when everybody tries to become better off,
nobody is better off.
But when everybody tries to become better,
everybody is better off.
Everybody would be rich
if nobody tried to become richer.
And nobody would be poor
if everybody tried to be the poorest.
And everybody would be what he ought
to be
if everybody tried to be
what he wants the other fellow to be.

Christianity has nothing to do
with either modern capitalism
or modern Communism,
for Christianity has a capitalism of its own
and a communism of its own.
Modern capitalism
is based on property without responsibility,
while Christian capitalism
is based on property with responsibility.
Modern Communism
is based on poverty through force
while Christian communism
is based on poverty through choice.
For a Christian,
voluntary poverty is the ideal
as exemplified by St. Francis of Assisi,
while private proverty is not an absolute right, but a gift
which as such can not be wasted,
but must be administered
for the benefit of God’s children.

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Daniel H. Conway

    Written in the 1930’s, it still rings true. This is Dorothy Day’s partner in the Catholic Worker, and her intelelctual and spiritual companion. One cannot understand the Catholic Worker or Dorothy Day, without studying Maurin.

  • Katerina Ivanovna –

    Do you think this utopian vision of Maurin is achievable through secular means or does it require an explicitly Christian ethos at work in our society? In either case, any thoughts on how to achieve such a world within our pluralistic society?

  • Daniel H. Conway

    Maurin would suggest an explicitly Catholic means was requried.

  • I don’t think this “utopian vision” can be achievable without a metanoia–a radical conversion, but the Christian who would say: “Yes, that is why is ‘utopian’ therefore not realistic” is a Christian that has lost hope and sight of the mission of Christians to save souls and direct their gaze to the Risen One.

  • Daniel H. Conway

    Mauring saw an active role of the Church in the life of the community, modelled on an idealistic version of the French peasant countryside, with an intellectual life an a re-affirmation of man’s attachment to work and the land. Christ in all His Forms, as Eucharist, as present in the priest, as present in the Mystical Body of Christ, and as present in the poor, would all be required.

  • SMB

    “Do you think this utopian vision of Maurin is achievable through secular means or does it require an explicitly Christian ethos at work in our society?”

    Good question. A secular version of Maurin’s distributism would look a lot like Pol Pot’s regime in Cambodia. Conversely, it seems at least possible to imagine a personalist economy without the neo-medieval agrarianism favored by Maurin.

  • Policraticus

    A secular version of Maurin’s distributism would look a lot like Pol Pot’s regime in Cambodia.

    Hmmm…not the angle I took.

  • Daniel H. Conway

    Politicratus:

    Well not exactly like Pol Pot. But an agrarian “tilt” is present. Maurin viewed the social diseases of his day (alcohol, drugs, the standard deviances of homeless men that are still present today and were present in the Great Depression) as a result of a fault of man’s relationship to work, work output, and the land. A green movement of sorts, with a “return to the land” figure heavily in the Catholic Worker mythos. Still some Cw’ers today struggle with Maurin’s vision in such farming communes.

    Maurin’s vision is fascinating. And fantastic.