L’autorité de l’Encyclique Rerum Novarum. Pages: pp. / · First Page · PDF. Free first page. Longueur et transmission des sermons d’Augustin au peuple: un examen des sermons pour l’Épiphanie et De sanctis. François Dolbeau. The Structure of the. : ENCYCLIQUE RERUM NOVARUM DU LEON XIII – LA CONDITION DES AUVRIEZS: , Paris, Imp. Maison de la Bonne Presse, S. A. .

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Some Socialist Reactions to Rerum novarum. Peter Doyle, “Nothing new and nothing true”. Some Socialist reactions to Rerum novarum, p. This paper examines the reactions of some English-speaking Socialists to the publication of the Encyclical, based on an analysis of the leading Socialist newspapers and journals, and the writings of Hyndman, Blatchford and Henry George. Socialists took the Encyclical seriously, fearing its effect on English and Irish Catholic workers.

They criticised the Pope’s wholesale condemnation of Socialism, and his failure to distinguish between it and Communism ; they believed that he was confused about the question of private property, and that his ideal picture of the small, peasant proprietor was totally irrelevant in modern industrialised societies like England.

They contrasted the true religion of the poor preached by Jesus with the support which modern religion gave to capitalism and the rich.

They concluded that the Pope, although perhaps well-intentioned, offered no solutions to modern problems. This paper examines the reactions of some English-speaking Socialists to the Encyclical Rerum novarum.

Their early, rather scornful, dismissals of the papal document were followed by novvarum more careful and detailed analysis of it, as they came to realise that its impact was considerable and that it might turn large numbers of the Catholic working classes in England away from Socialism.

The main points in their critiques were that the Pope did not understand the claims that were being made on behalf of Socialism novarym general, and that his views on private property, especially the private ownership of land, were both irrelevant and erroneous. They also made much of the supposed contrast between religion as practised by contemporary churches and individual Christians, reru the religion originally preached by Jesus. English Socialists rarely spoke with a united voice. There were serious divisions between the various groups which had been established mainly in the s; some of these differences were due to the personalities involved, some were doctrinal and others novarrum tactical.

Whatever the reasons, it was unlikely that a common response to the Encyclical would be rerun from characters and movements as diverse as Hyndman and his Social Democratic Foundation, Morris and his Socialist League, Hardie and the Independent Labour Party, Blatchford and his Clarion Clubs, and the leading figures of the Fabian Society.

What they had in common, however, was a belief that only Socialism could bring relief to the suffering working classes of England by establishing a new society which would eliminate competitive individualism and unjust exploitation. It seemed to most of them that the future was encycliquee for the taking: Perhaps their reaction rrrum the Encyclical was in part dictated by surprise and even apprehension that there encycoique life still left in the body, and that it might hold up the coming of the new age by persuading the workers that their best hope for a better deal lay in neither Socialism nor Capitalism, but in a new middle way which.

While it is true that most of the English working-classes did not practise religion in any formal way, commentators were agreed that they retained a strong residual Christianity, and were not easily won over to atheism or even active anti-clericalism1. It must also be stressed that all these Socialist groups were of recent foundation. They had not had sufficient time yet to establish a gerum working-class constituency, and were not sure of being accepted by the Trade Unions; indeed, the latter looked on the new movements with considerable suspicion.

In such a context their apprehension about the possible loss of the Catholic working-classes is perfectly understandable.

Despite their general dismissal of religion as irrelevant to the needs of modern society, many English Socialists regarded the Catholic Church with some grudging approval – or, at least, as an enemy worth fighting.

This nvoarum been expressed by Hyndman in in a letter to Cardinal Manning: This was no reason, he had continued, why both sides should not acknowledge the ‘economic truths’ which the ’eminent men’ gerum both sides were teaching. On other occasions he referred to Catholicism as ‘a well- organised international rival to Socialism’2.

A major part of the issue for the English Socialists here was Manning himself: When he died in some of the warmest tributes came from the papers which encycliique loudest in their condemnation of religion and the churches.

Blatchford, for example, fncyclique The Clarion newspaper spoke of his death as a ‘distinct loss’ to the social reform movement; his interest in the London County Council, his interference in the great dock strike ofand his ‘extraordinary sympathy’ with the poor would all mean that his death would be widely lamented.

In a later issue, Blatchford contrasted Manning’s death with that of the young, royal Duke of Clarence; the latter’s would be only a slight loss to the country, while Manning’s would be rerkm. The Cardinal had been ‘an Englishman to his boots’, and one of the ‘best friends and most consistent and powerful helpers’ that the workers had had for a very long time. His strength had lain in the fact that all his efforts to improve the lot of the ‘lower orders’ were strictly for ‘love of jus.


Given Manning’s standing in these matters, it is not surprising that he was on good terms with some of the labour leaders.

One of these was Ben Tillett, a member of the socialist Fabian Society and a prominent figure in labour circles. He had taken a leading part in the London dock strike, and his admiration for Manning had stemmed largely from that occasion. Almost as soon as the Encyclical was published he wrote to the Cardinal to praise it:. I have just been reading the Pope’s letter – a very courageous one indeed, one that will test good catholics much more effectively than any exhortation to religious worship.

As you know, some of us would disagree very strongly with many of the strictures laid upon Socialists. These are minor matters.

Rerum novarum – Wikipedia

The Catholic sympathy abounds in a generous strength. I hardly think our Protestant prelates would dare utter such wholesome doctrine4. It is of some interest that Tillett, an outsider, was perceptive enough to see that the Pope’s letter would ‘test’ the Catholic community and divide it.

Unlike other socialist commentators, he also saw that there was more to the letter than an easy condemnation of Socialism. While Manning’s reputation might have made English social reformers more willing to listen to the voice of the Catholic Church on such matters, the immediate response of most English Socialists to the Encyclical was not as favourable as Tillett’s. Hyndman greeted the announcement of its publication with a mixture of sarcasm and banter.

He described the Pope as ‘a very respectable old gentleman’ who, because he was so respectable in middle-class eyes felt bound to condemn Socialism which was so non-respectable. But what did the Pope think such a condemnation would achieve? We rejoice that this ancient and historic fraud should have devoted itself in its day of decadence and decrepitude to the support of the meanest system of slavery yet known to men. Capitalism and Catholicism fitly stand and fall together5. Hyndman admitted that he had not yet read the Papal Letter.

When he had done so he returned to the attack, calling the Encyclical a ‘schoolboy essay’ which denounced Socialism even though it was clear that the Pope was ‘utterly ignorant’ of its theories. There was, he claimed, no argument in the Letter, no historical knowledge, no economic analysis.

Pauvreté et propriété privée dans l’encyclique rerum novarum

All that the Pope could do was to recommend working men to be pious, and advise the capitalists to be sure to give them enough leisure time to pray and to take care that the men take home a ‘reasonable wage’.

Hyndman could not resist more personal attacks on the Pope: Hyndman was always more outspoken in his attacks on religion than most of the other Socialist leaders.

He was contemptuous of Protestantism because of its stress on the individual, which he felt was too closely linked with economic individualism, and because it was too much a part of the political and social establishment. He was especially dismissive of Non-Conformity and its ‘silly and sickening prudery’, so typical of the lower middle classes.

It has been claimed that Hyndman lost considerable working-class support because of the generally anti-religious and anti-clerical tone of his Social Democratic Federation; in the case of the Irish Catholic workers, his anti-catholicism lost him the support which his strong stand for Irish Home Rule might have won7. While Hyndman could not be bothered to subject the Encyclical to detailed analysis, which anyway would only have given it an importance which he thought it did not deserve, he did print in his newspaper, Justice, a long letter from a self-styled ‘Member of the Red International’.

This is of some interest, because it showed the. It was the Pope’s stress on private property that the writer attacked, on the grounds that such a concept was old-fashioned and irrelevant in the face of modern capitalism.

« Nothing new and nothing true ». Some Socialist Reactions to Rerum novarum – Persée

Did such private property even exist to any extent, given that the ‘whole industrial process is to-day cooperative’?

The individual was no longer important – ‘a mere subsidiary factor in this huge maelstrom of commercialism. Socialists would not be opposed to such an institution of private property as the Pope describes, but it no longer existed, encylique one of ‘the surmounted categories of human history’8.

Here the writer touched on a point that was to be a major part of subsequent criticisms: To Socialists this was irrelevant, and they had ‘other work to reerum than that of analysing the justice or even the expediency’ of peasant proprietorship.

Capitalism, the writer went on, made short work of such ‘idyllic pictures of rustic industry and simple faith’. The criticism was not altogether unfair: This ‘medievalism’ was pinpointed by Troeltsch, writing just a few years later:.

Catholicism encycliqur desires a renewal, at least in its main features, of the general political and social situation upon which it had erected its novqrum in the Middle Ages, and this why it maintains. Modern Catholic social philosophy is still based upon these premises, although to some extent it has modified and modernised the former9. This tendency was certainly strong among English Catholic intellectuals and lasted for a long time. It can be found even in otherwise quite forward-looking writers such as Bishop Casartelli of Salford, and the founders of the Catholic Social Guild who were inspired largely by Leo XIII’s social writings; its clearest manifestation was in the later Distributist Movement.


It was not, however, restricted to Catholics: Behind the letter to Justice lay a half-formed suspicion that the Pope’s view of private proprietorship in land was more suited to a predominantly subsistence economy, or to a modern society with a substantial peasantry, rather than to an urban, industrialised society, in which firms and industries had a heavily concentrated ownership pattern. Even if it were accepted as an ideal, however, the writer argued that the Pope should realise that the greatest threat to it came not from Socialism, but from capitalism which would crush every sign of such individualism and replace it with a ‘huge and grinding monopoly of capitalistic encycliwue Only the ‘all conquering spirit of man’ could stop capitalism, and even the Holy Father ‘must bow down before that spirit’, whose march would ensure that both rfrum Pope and his Holy Church would pass away and become ‘the stuff of which dreams are made – a memory’ A subsequent letter to the paper urged Hyndman not to attack the Catholic Church, since many Catholics were members of the Social Democratic Foundation and the movement could not afford to alienate any of the main religious bodies.

But Hyndman was adamant: Another leading Socialist was Robert Blatchford, founder of the famous Clarion Clubs and editor of a witty, well-written paper The Clarion. In general, Blatchford was somewhat more cautious than Hyndman when it came to commenting on religious matters, though his paper was for ever sniping at the established church and, perhaps surprisingly, at the Salvation Army The latter was condemned for its colonies scheme which was judged to be as irrelevant a distraction from the true problem as the Pope’s ideal of the small landed proprietorand npvarum its supposed sweating practices in getting the destitute to work for little or no reward; this was for Blatchford just another example of the hypocrisy of most of those professing to be Christians.

Yet he had praise for the Catholic clergy and nuns, whom he believed to be sincere and charitable people; he had met them in the slums engaged in works of mercy, and in Ire. He had started his newspaper in December,too late to rrerum on the publication of the Encyclical. When he did turn his attention to it he was not content to dismiss it with sarcasm or derision. He devoted three long editorials to it, and these were later published as a pamphlet which ran to twenty pages In the first section he set out to show that the papal document was vague and self- contradictory because the Pope did not understand the basic issues.

Its fundamental error came from its attempt to reconcile the respective rights of the capitalist and of the labourer, for the capitalist envyclique no rights; the true social problem consisted in working out how to defend the rights of the worker from the claims of the capitalist.

Capital was necessary, but it was a neutral thing without rights or claims; it was to be distinguished from the capitalist who was as unnecessary as any other ‘thief or interloper’ Blatchford was fond of this kind of detailed exegesis, and his pamphlet was full of italics and quotations from the Pope as he tried to point the differences between what Socialists genuinely held and what the Pope said they held. So, for example, the Pope said that the Socialists worked on the poor’s envy of the rich to destroy private property and to transfer private possessions to a common ownership so that they could be administered by the State or municipal bodies.

Blatchford replied that Socialists did not wish to destroy private property, but to prevent the earnings of the many from becoming the property of the nvoarum. They would distinguish between the lawful possessor and the rightful possessor, and would compel the lawful possessor to restore to the rightful possessor the property of which he had robbed him.

L’encyclique Rerum novarum “sur la condition des ouvriers” [microforme]

Nor, in Blatchford’s view, was the State to be feared, unless it was understood as the Pope was understanding it in narrow terms of ‘government’; the State was the nation, that is the totality of the people. It was to these people that the wealth and land of England belonged, not to a small group of rncyclique, aristocrats, prelates and the like Rerumm several pages of this kind of argument, Blatchford accused the Pope of having ‘wound himself into a tangle of inconsistencies’ about such issues as usury and the rich man’s duty to help the poor.

What, he asked, was the justice of the case between the rich idler and the poor worker? As the Pope assured his readers that a man. Reason argued that the industrious should not bow down to the idle, nor the honest man give honour to the robber; justice claimed that the robber should give back what he had stolen from the producers of the wealth