Easy Essays – In The Light of History

By Peter Maurin

The Communist Party
The criticism of bourgeois capitalism
by the Communist Party
is the criticism
of Victor Considerant
used by Marx and Engels
in the Communist Manifesto.
The definition of Communism
of the Communist Manifesto
is the definition
of Proudhon
borrowed by Marx and Engels.
The technique of class struggle
is the technique
advocated by Marx and Engels.
The technique of proletarian dictatorship
is the technique
advocated by Lenin.

The Catholic Worker

The Catholic Worker criticism
of bourgeois society
is the criticism
of St. Thomas More.
The Catholic Worker aims
are the aims
of St. Thomas Aquinas
in his doctrine
of the Common Good.
The Catholic Worker means
are the daily practice
of the Works of Mercy
and the fostering
of Farming Communes
where scholars
become workers
and workers
become scholars.

1200–Guild System

In 1200 A. D.
there was no capitalist system,
there was the guild system.
The doctrine of the guilds
was the doctrine
of the Common Good.
People used to say, as they do now,
“What can I do for you?”
but they meant what they said.
Now they say one thing
and they mean another.
They did not look for markets,
they let the markets
look for them.

1400–Middle Men

Around 1400 A. D.
appears the middle man.
He offers to buy the goods
and to find a market.
The guildsman
thinks about the money
offered for his goods
and forgets the Common Good.
And the middle man
is not interested
in selling useful goods
but in making money
on any kind of goods.
And the consumer
never meets the producer
and the producer
ceases to think
in terms of service
and begins to think
in terms of profits.

1600–Banker

Before John Calvin
people were not allowed
to lend money at interest.
John Calvin decided
to legalize
money lending at interest
in spite of the teachings
of the Prophets of Israel
and the Fathers of the Church.
Protestant countries
tried to keep up
with John Calvin
and money-lending at interest
became the general practice.
And money ceased to be
a means of exchange
and began to be
a means to make money.
So people lent money on time
and started to think of time
in terms of money
and said to each other,
“Time is money.”

1700–Manufacturer

With the discovery of steam
the factory system
made its appearance.
To take drudgery out of the home
was supposed to be
the aim of the manufacturer.
So the guildsman
left his shop
and went to the factory.
But the profit-making manufacturer
found it more profitable
to employ women
than to employ men.
So the women left the home
and went to the factory.
Soon the children
followed the women
in the factory.
So the men have to stay at home
while the women and children
work in the factory.

1800–Economist

Since Adam Smith,
who published his book in 1776,
we have been told
that competition
is the life of trade
and that it is a case
of the survival of the fittest.
So since 1776
looking for markets
has engaged men’s activities.
And since trade follows the flag,
industrial nations
have also become
imperialist nations.
The fight for markets
between two industrial nations,
England and Germany,
was the main cause
of the World War.

1914–World War

As President Wilson said,
the World War
was a commercial war.
But a commercial war
had to be idealized,
so it was called
a War for Democracy.
But the War for Democracy
did not bring Democracy,
it brought
Bolshevism in Russia,
Fascism in Italy.
Nazism in Germany.

1929–World Depression

After the World War
people tried to believe
that a New Era
had dawned upon the world.
People thought
that they had found a solution
to the problem
of mass distribution.
People thought
that the time had come
of a two-car garage,
a chicken in every pot
and a sign “To Let”
in front of every poorhouse.
And everybody
wanted to cash in
on the future prosperity.
So stock promoters got busy
and stocked people with stocks
till they got stuck.

1933–New Deal

We were told in 1929
that business would go on
as usual.
We were told in 1930
that the economic system
was fundamentally sound.
We were told in 1931
that prosperity
was just around the corner.
We were told in 1932
that the depression was fought
on one hundred fronts.
We were told in 1933
that five million men
would be employed
by Labor Day.
And in 1934
people went crazy
for the NRA.
And in 1935
the NRA is scrapped
and economic recovery
is a long way off.

1933–The Catholic Worker

The aim of the Catholic Worker
is to create order
out of chaos.
The aim of the Catholic Worker
is to help the unemployed
to employ themselves.
The aim of the Catholic Worker
is to make an impression
on the depression
through expression.
The aim of the Catholic Worker
is to create a new society
within the shell of the old
with the philosophy of the new.
which is not a new philosophy.
but a very old philosophy,
a philosophy so old
that it looks like new.

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